(source: Ma’an News Agency)
Hamas leader in exile Khaled Mash’al said a return to direct negotiations with Israel was "nationally illegitimate, carried out by force and American summons," on Tuesday.
Mash’al, speaking at an iftar dinner held for journalists in Damascus, said the PLO Executive Committee’s decision to endorse the talks was "an echo of Washington’s orders," adding that consensus was not reached among Palestinian factions, with most of the 11 parties making up the PLO opposing a return to talks with Israel.
"The success of talks will be according to Israeli measures and conditions, which means eliminating the Palestinian cause, including the right of return, Jerusalem, 1967 borders. This is a success for Israeli interests," Mash’al said.
The Hamas leader said those who backed talks "sought their popularity from abroad … and have given up on their conditions and demands, subduing themselves to the US, just as they did when the US objected to [Palestinian] conciliation." He further accused the Palestinian Authority of being "responsible for many disasters," including the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. "This would not have happened if the PA leadership were not weak," he added.
US, Quartet 'backtracking' Mash'al said the Quartet's statement and US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's comment that talks would not be entered on on preconditions were "backtracking and continued change in the references [of negotiations]." Some sides hoped the quartet statement, which endorsed talks but set conditions for a starting point to discussions, would be used as the basis for talks once parties meet. The talks serve to "eliminate" the cause and are the "fruits of [US President Barak] Obama and [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu's interests, which does not allow room for Arab interests … It is a sign of bad management of the negotiation file, encouraging Netanyahu's extremism." Regional powers should reject invitation to US summit The exiled Hamas leader warned Jordan's King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak of "catastrophic consequences to nation and region," if they do not rescind their acceptance of an invitation to participate in the summit ahead of direct talks on 2 September. Mash'al called on Arab and Palestinian officials to "review the policy of settling, after it has proved a failed option amidst the lack of power," and opt instead for national strategy "based on empowering resistance, rebuilding the PLO, and putting all of their energy and our people with us." Plurality of diplomatic options, "tactics and maneuvers," are also required, Mash'al added.
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