"We are filled with hope that this new year will be our year of victory and independence, that we will see the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," said Palestinian President
Mahmoud Abbas on Monday.
Speaking to a crowd of Fatah-loyalists assembled in Ramallah to celebrate the movement's 43rd anniversary, the president called for ''a new page, writing in its lines a credible agreement based on partnership, on life, on our homeland and our struggle to liberate it.''
Abbas also said the Palestinian Authority would not cede a single inch of ground in negotiations with Israel over the future sovereignty of Jerusalem.
Abbas vowed he would bring any eventual agreement with Israel to a public referendum so that the Palestinian people would be given the chance to decide the course of their national future.
"This is not the time for empty slogans," said Abbas, "it is time to resolve the core issues based on the view of the international community, time to find a solution for Jerusalem, the settlements, the borders and the Palestinian refugees."
'Israel held talks with Hamas'
Abbas also claimed on Monday that Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey revealed to him that despite Israel's stated policy that it would not speak to Hamas, representatives from both parties met for clandestine talks in Switzerland.
The negotiations, held under the banner of 'The Switzerland Accords,' proposed the establishment of a Palestinian state within temporary borders in exchange for a 15-year ceasefire. "They spoke of a temporary state, but this is unacceptable," said Abbas.
'Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue'
Abbas also took a newly conciliatory tone toward his Hamas rivals, calling for a ''new page'' in relations between the bitter enemies.
''There is no way for any party here to be an alternative to the other, and there is no room for terms like coup or military takeover, but only for dialogue, dialogue, dialogue,'' Abbas said, referring to the Islamic militant Hamas' violent rout of his Fatah forces and takeover of the Gaza Strip in June.
Abbas maintained his position that Hamas must restore power in Gaza to an elected government. But he urged reconciliation and called for new elections in an effort to end the suffering the Palestinian people have endured as a result of the takeover.
''I renew my offer for early elections here, as a way out of the hell that was imposed on us,'' Abbas said Monday.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum rejected Abbas' speech. ''It is full of incitement and words calling for divisions. There is no new initiative or practical step in this speech that can pave the road to start an immediate dialogue,'' he said.