PA won't disarm Hamas, Islamic Jihad
Khaled Abu Toameh, THE JERUSALEM POST Aug. 22, 2005
Hamas and Islamic Jihad announced on Monday that they have reached an
agreement with the Palestinian Authority according to which the two groups
would not be disarmed.
The agreement was reportedly achieved during talks in Damascus between PA
Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Qurei met Sunday night in Damascus with leaders of various radical groups,
including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and discussed ways of cooperating with
them after implementation of the disengagement plan is completed.
Sources close to the two groups said Qurei made it clear that the PA would
not confiscate the weapons of any of the armed groups in the Gaza Strip.
Musa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas leader based in Syria, said the meeting was
held in a "cordial atmosphere" and that the two sides agreed that the
Palestinians should have a joint strategy after disengagement.
"We stressed during the meeting that the Palestinians have the right to
continue the resistance [against Israel] and that there would be no attempt
to collect weapons from the resistance groups," he said.
"The weapons of the resistance were founded to defend the Palestinian people
and resist the occupation," he added. "The Gaza victory was achieved with
the weapons of the resistance, which is the only strategy to drive Israel
out of the rest of our lands."
Qurei met earlier with Syrian President Bashar Assad and discussed with him
the Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank.
He briefed Assad on Israel's settlement expansion in the West Bank and
Jerusalem, and the ongoing preparations of the PA for the aftermath of
disengagement, the Syrian news agency Sana reported.
"Gaza is a part of Palestine, and there will be no calm until the
establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its
capital," Qurei told reporters after the meeting.
He lauded Syrian-Palestinian relations, saying they were based on "full
cooperation and consultation."
Meanwhile, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told a European envoy Monday that the
Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip was not enough and that Israel
should withdraw to the pre-1967 borders.
Abbas, who met in his office in Gaza City with European Union Middle East
envoy Mark Otteh, called for international pressure on Israel after
disengagement to revive the peace process and implement the road map plan.
Abbas also met with US, Russian and United Nations officials and urged them
to put pressure on Israel to withdraw from the entire West Bank and east
Jerusalem and to stop construction of the security fence.
Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for Abbas, said the Quartet - the US,
Russia, the EU and the UN - was working toward ensuring a smooth Israeli
withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank.
He said the Quartet was also seeking ways of helping the Palestinians
rebuild the Gaza Strip and that its representatives would meet in New York
next month to discuss providing financial aid to the PA.
Otteh said after the meeting with Abbas that Europe would help the
Palestinians improve their living conditions and boost their economy to
create jobs for the unemployed. He said the EU had already provided the PA
with $500 million for various projects in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and