Hamas has accused U.S. President George W. Bush of trying to bring war among Palestinians on Thursday for urging Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to confront and dismantle armed factions.
Bush made the call after a meeting with Abbas at the White House to try to advance a long-stalled “Road map” for peace with Israel following last month’s Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Bush was making a “New American attempt to put pressure on the Palestinian Authority in order to create internal Palestinian strife and weaken the factions of resistance.”
U.S. State Department official Alberto Fernandez said during a video chat with senior PA officials in Ramallah that, “Hamas must decide whether it wants to kill and impose terror or participate in civilian life.”
Meanwhile, a senior PA official told Ynet Thursday that the Palestinians were somewhat disappointed by the Bush-Abbas summit, as they were not able to get a commitment from Bush regarding a timetable for the diplomatic process.
“This may maintain the concept of the Palestinian state as it is viewed by Bush – a general concept, lacking a timetable and support on the ground,” he said.
However, the official said the Palestinians hope that the U.S. would pressure Israel to release Palestinian prisoners and offer additional concessions ahead of the Palestinian elections.
Palestinians have asked that president Bush does not interfere in internal Palestinian affairs, blaming Israel for U.S. demands that Hamas be banned from taking part in the upcoming general elections.
Erekat however said that Hamas’ decision to continue its armed struggle against Israel and to pursue a political path will prove problematic for the PA. “Hamas has to decide whether it wants to embarrass the PA with military activities ahead of the elections,” Erekat said.
Jerusalem happy with the situation
Political sources in Jerusalem have expressed Israel’s satisfaction with president Bush’s stern message to Abbas. “The message to Abbas
Bush had apparently told Abbas that with the completion of the withdrawal from Gaza the implementation of the road map plan for peace hinges on the Palestinan Authority’s readiness to fight terror.
Yesha backs Bush
The Yesha Council has backed Bush’s demand that the Palestinians implement the first step of the Road Map which requires the disarmament of terror groups and not the secession of settlement expansion.
The Council welcomed Bush’s claim that Israel’s fence in the West Bank is a security barrier and not a political one. In this respect, the Council demanded that the barrier be built around settlements where no security solution is found.
Reuters contributed to the report