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Mashaal. 'Palestinians will not be bribed'
Photo: AP
Mashaal: Resistance must be launched in West Bank
Hamas politburo chief slams Palestinian Authority blaming it of selling off Palestinian people's rights. 'Peace talks became a process of daily humiliation,' he says. Meanwhile, Palestinian negotiator Erekat blames Israel of writing off agreements

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said on Saturday that his group faced "huge challenges" in the West Bank as a force against Israel.

 

Armed struggle has a powerful appeal among the inhabitants of the occupied territory, where the rival Fatah faction has been extending influence since a civil war with Hamas in 2007, Mashaal told a conference in the Syrian capital.

 

"The resistance is facing huge challenges, especially in the West Bank," Mashaal told a meeting of leading pro-Hamas politicians, writers and thinkers opposed to the US-supervised peace process between the Palestinians and Israel.

 

"Our inalienable rights are threatened with extinction if the scene in the West Bank does not change by launching the resistance against the Israeli occupation and the settlements," he added.

 

The Palestinian Authority, dominated by Fatah, intensified a campaign of arrests against Hamas after its fighters killed four Jewish settlers in the West Bank on August 31.

 

The attack was on the eve of the launch of direct Middle East peace talks, which subsequently broke down over Israel's refusal to meet demands by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to freeze Israeli settlement building.

 

Dayton's forces

Mashaal, who lives in exile in Syria, said only armed resistance would keep the Palestinian cause alive, despite Western aid to Abbas and his forces.

 

"The Palestinian people will not be bribed. They will not be cowed by Dayton's forces," he said, referring to Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, US Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian territories, who heads training of 8,000 members at the core of the Palestinian Authority's security apparatus.

 

Mashaal said Hamas opposes the US-supervised Middle East talks as they would result in a selloff of Palestinian rights, including the territory that Israel has occupied since the 1967 War and the right of Palestinian refugees to return.

 

"We are not talking about a business deal or making a profit. Our only capital is the land, identity and dignity," Mashaal said.

 

"When there is such an imbalance of power (between Israel and the Palestinians) negotiations become a process of daily humiliation," he added.

 

Renewed Egyptian efforts in the last several months to narrow difference between Hamas and Fatah have failed.

 

'Abbas has Arafat's resolve'

Recently, there were failed attempts to reconcile between the Palestinian factions. On Friday, the Fatah Revolutionary Council convened in an attempt to demonstrate resolve opposite Israel. Council member Khatem Abd el-Kader said: "President Abbas has conducted himself with the same resolve that characterized Arafat. He pledged he would not return to the negotiating table without a complete cessation of settlement construction."

 

Meanwhile, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat met on Saturday with a line of foreign diplomats, including the UN secretary-general's envoy to the Middle East, the EU envoy and the British consul in Jerusalem. Erekat illustrated the dead end of the political process.

 

He demanded that the UN and the international community "intervene in order to stop Israel's attempt to create facts on the ground, particularly in Jerusalem and the attempt to define it as the Jewish people's capital."

 

Erekat claimed that the Israeli government's conduct shows it has written off the peace process and all signed agreements.

 

He described the Netanyahu administration as being based on "a policy of creating facts on the ground in an effort to solidify and deepen the occupation and settlements." He stressed that Abbas's stance opposes any temporary agreement or a state on temporary borders.

 

 

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