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Palestinian factions reject direct talks

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(source: Ma’an News Agency)

All major Palestinian factions except Fatah have come out with statements condemning the return to peace talks signaled by a PLO Executive Committee decision to accept a US invitation on Friday.

Factions expected a statement from the Middle East Quartet to lay the foundations of peace talks, but the document — released in parallel and in support of a US invitation to direct talks — was not accepted by the US as a basis for negotiations.

"When the Palestinian negotiating team relies on the Quartet’s statement, they are deceiving the Palestinian public opinion … neither Hamas nor the Palestinian people will abide by the outcome of these meaningless negotiations," a statement issued by Hamas from Gaza City said.

The US parameters for talks were scant, with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton saying there would be "no preconditions," and US Middle East Envoy George Mitchell later explaining that the Quartet document would have to be approved by the negotiations partners if it were to have any place in the talks.

In agreeing to that framework, Hamas said in its statement, the PLO decision was "submission to the US" and "gives the occupation the cover to complete its settlement project in the West Bank and its aggression against the Palestinian people." Analysts said US President Barack Obama wanted to launch peace talks ahead of the 26 September expiry of a temporary Israeli settlement construction freeze on some areas of the West Bank not including Jerusalem, given the Palestinian insistence that the construction of settlements proves Israel has no desire to see a Palestinian state on the same lands. Hamas further slammed the decision to return to talks, saying if was not reached by national consensus,. "This portion [of consenting parties] is isolated and dissident to the national consensus of 11 Palestinian factions that refused both direct and indirect negotiations," the statement read. Islamic Jihad says US 'satisfying occupation' Islamic Jihad was quick to renounce the re-launching of direct talks, describing the US' invitation to meet in September as "an indication that the US administration is willing to satisfy the occupation of its commitment to Israel's interests." "Acceptance of the invitation to enter direct negotiations by the PLO’s Executive Committee does not mean there is national consensus on it. It is submission to Israel and dangerous denial to the Palestinian inalienable rights and principles," Islamic Jihad said. The Islamist movement further said it refuses to compromise, describing negotiations as a "trend that will terminate the question of Palestine." Leftist factions slam call for direct talks The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine denounced the call to resume talks, but focused on its disappointment around the Quartet statement, which was issued in parallel to the US invitation to talks. "The Quartet’s statement means implicit legalization of settlements, the blockade and temporary Palestinian state, which contradicts last March’s statement which confirmed that settlement was illegal," the PFLP wrote. In its statement, the Quartet reaffirmed its 19 March calls for an end to occupation, but in the American framework for peace talks, the Quartet documents are not used as a starting point. US Middle East Envoy George Mitchell was clear in his assertions that there were no "preconditions" to talks, and that parameters would be identified by parties at the table. Resuming direct talks with Israel based on the Quartet's statement would mean abandoning international resolutions, according to the PFLP, "and the abandonment even of the Arab Peace Initiative." The front further described the Quartet's recommendations as "without legal value" and "baseless words [which] harm the inalienable rights and principles of the Palestinian people, which include the right of return, self-determination and independence," believing that talks would lead to further concessions in Palestinian rights. PPP says 'never yield' In Ramallah, the Palestinian Peoples' Party's politburo issued a statement saying that agreeing to negotiations with Israel would lead to "further fiasco." Writing that the alternative to talks is "to face the pressures and never yield to them if we want to guarantee a real peace process based on UN resolutions under UN supervision, based on a refusal to negotiate while settlement construction continues."  The PLO and the Israeli government accepted an invitation the US on Friday to resume direct talks officially in September following the release of the Quartet's statement. Al-Ahrar Hamas-leaning splinter group Al-Ahrar issued a statement Saturday calling the decision to return to talks a "subjugation to American decisions."  The group said it would not be "committed to any of the outcomes" of the talks, and called for "Palestinian organizations to announce their rejection of these talks," adding that they believed the process would "bring more settlements and the judization of Palestinian lands."