Senior Fatah official
Tawfiq Tirawi said that the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation will
promote Palestinian interests ahead of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' planned
statehood bid in September, making it "more important than peace with Israel."
"We want this reconciliation to arrive at the UN General Assembly united. Appealing to the United Nations will be done with the support of all Palestinian factions and all the nations that have recognized a Palestinian state until now.
"If Israel thinks we have to choose between peace with it and peace with Hamas –
any Palestinian you ask will tell you we prefer Palestinian unity over peace with Israel," he said.
"We will welcome any peace with Israel, but it will have to stop settlement construction… It is Israel that prefers settlements over peace."
Tirawi dismissed concerns voiced over the possibility that a future Palestinian government with Hamas in it will refuse to negotiate with Israel, saying that the Palestinian government will have "no say" in such peace talks, since "the only body allowed to negotiate with Israel on behalf of the Palestinian people is the PLO."
There is also no need for all Palestinian factions to recognize Israel for the sake of future peace talks, he said. "Did the Democratic Front (for the Liberation of Palestine) or the Popular Front (for the Liberation of Palestine) ever recognize Israel? The answer is no, but we still held talks."
The split between Hamas and Fatah, he stressed, was never the reason the Israeli-Palestinian peace process stalled. "The split is several years old and the fact of the matter is, even with the split, there were no talks. The obstacle for the negotiations is not Hamas, it is Netanyahu."
The fact that Hamas is largely considered by the international community as a terror group was never a factor when pondering the reconciliation, he added. "No Palestinian group is a terror organization in our eyes."
Tirawi concluded by saying that the reconciliation is unrelated to efforts made to secure the release kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. "That is between Israel, Hamas and the German mediator," he said.
Top Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said Thursday that his organization does not intend to recognize Israel or conduct any peace talks with it.
In a contradicting statement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Fatah will pursue its negotiations with Jerusalem.
Al-Zahar added that will not stop Fatah negotiations with Israel, since "if Fatah wants to negotiate with Israel over trivialities, they can."