MK Talab El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta'al), who attended the signing of the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah on Wednesday, revealed interesting details about tensions between the Palestinian leaders.
"Before the ceremony an argument broke out between Khaled Mashaal and Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) about who will give the main speech and eventually it was decided that Abu Mazen would be the one to discuss the issues from all angles and Mashaal got the shorter speech," he told Ynet. According to El-Sana, the two also argued over the new government.
El-Sana attended the ceremony together with MKs Ahmad Tibi, Wasil Taha and Mohammed Barakeh. "This is a historic step and I warn the Israeli government that hurting it will not serve security."
Tibi also welcomed the "historic reconciliation" and claimed Abbas and Mashaal were both clear on the need to establish a Palestinian state on 1967 borders. "The ball is now in Israel's refuseniks' court – with Netanyahu and Lieberman." The Arab MKs later met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Egyptian and Palestinian senior officials.
Abbas and Mashaal. Fought over seating arrangements? (Photo: AFP)
Wednesday's ceremony was delayed nearly two hours, apparently due to a last-minute argument over Hamas and Fatah leaders' seating arrangements. Sources say Abbas refused to allow Mashaal to sit next to him on stage.
Mashaal eventually sat in the front row and not on the main stage. One report claimed that Abbas demanded that he be presented as president of the Palestinian people and not as party chairman.
In his speech, Mashaal said: "We have decided to pay any price so that reconciliation is achieved. Our real fight is with the Israeli occupier, not Palestinian factions and sons of the one nation.
"We want to become united and heal the wound in order to have one authority and one institution. We are one people. We want to become liberated in order to achieve our common goal which is a Palestinian state in the (West) bank and the (Gaza) strip without yielding the right of return."
Mashaal promised to promote a dialogue in order to understand the "decision making manner" and reach a unified policy on all issues. "We have been ready for peace since Madrid but Israel does not respect us and has rejected all out initiatives – whether they came from Fatah or Hamas."
Mashaal on the podium (Photo: AP)
He added: "We want to retrieve out rights and want Netanyahu to withdraw from our lands and recognize our rights."
Mashaal further noted: "I tell Abu Mazen – We are willing to hold elections soon but the scene must be set for this. We must reach understandings in all areas before we hold elections. We shall accept any outcome."
Mashaal and Abbas both thanked Egypt for brokering the talks. Abbas mentioned that many countries around the world have recognized Palestine.
He said Israel cannot continue to act as "a state above the law" and called for an end to the construction of new settlements on lands the Palestinians want for a future state.
Abbas addressed "threats by senior Israeli officials" saying that "Israel's political affairs are its own domestic matters. Hamas are our brothers and family. We may differ, and we often do, but we still arrive at a minimum level of understanding.
"We do not tell Israel who will head the coalition, we negotiate with Israel regardless of who heads the government. Mr. Netanyahu, you must choose between settlements and peace."
Celebrations in Ramallah (Photo: Reuters)
The Palestinian president later rejected a proposal for the establishment of a state on provisional borders and the deployment of Israeli troops in a future state.
"We condemn the use of violence and terror. There will only be one armed force – that is what we want, as in any orderly country. Israel is carrying out state terror with its actions in Jerusalem, the separation fence and the settlers' terror. We fight this terror in a non-violent manner in Bilin and Naalin. This struggle is backed by international organizations."
Abbas also addressed Palestinian youth and said: "We must implement what you are asking – should we fail I expect they will demonstrate again (to end the division). "I tell the Palestinian people – we want the people to push and we shall perform our duties." Abbas concluded by promising to visit Gaza soon.
Reuters and Hassan Shaalan contributed to this report
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