3. PA Roadmap for Hamas to Run in Elections
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
PA negotiator Saeb Erekat told Israeli television that Hamas' running in elections is tantamount to giving up weapons. Bush referred to terrorists as "armed street gangs" but did not note Hamas.
At Thursday's press conference with American President George W. Bush, Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) stated that all Arab groups would be allowed to participate in the upcoming PA elections. The vote for PA legislators originally was scheduled for this past summer but was postponed to January because of fears in the PA that Hamas would win a significant portion of seats. Recent polls show its popularity remains stable, with about one-third support.
Erekat told Channel 2 television, "No one can use guns and no one can incite verbally and no one can use mosques. So the election law provides that those persons and those factions who run for elections must understand that only through peaceful means can they make changes."
Bush said he opposed armed terrorists from running, but added that the matter is an internal PA affair. According to American law, foreign aid cannot be funneled to outlawed terrorist organizations. A coalition PA-Hamas government would place in question the American aid to the PA.
Vice Premier Shimon Peres, leader of the Labor party, said that Hamas must not be allowed to run without first disarming. Yossi Beilin, leader of the Meretz/Yahad party, told the Middle East Institute in Washington this week that the PA and Israel have no choice but to deal with Hamas as a reality, despite the United States' designation of the group as an outlawed terrorist organization.
Hamas leaders accused Bush of trying to incite a civil war between its organization and the PA. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Bush's demand for a crackdown on terrorists was a "serious American interference in our internal affairs aimed to create an internal conflict."
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4. Bush to Abbas: Do More to Fight Terror
By Hana Levi Julian
U.S. President George W. Bush told Palestinian Authority Chairman on Thursday that he must do more to fight terrorism.
At a press conference following the meeting, Bush emphasized the importance of seizing the moment of opportunity presented by the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.
For the first time, however, Bush noted that a Palestinian state might not be possible until after he has left office, three years away. Bush set a goal last year for the creation of a Palestinian state before the end of his term in 2008.
Bush noted that the Palestinian Authority would have to reject and fight terrorism in order to "earn the confidence of its neighbors," a clear reference to Israel's skepticism about Abbas' ability to control terrorist factions.
"The way forward must begin by confronting the threat that armed gangs pose to a genuinely democratic Palestine," said Bush.
Abbas said he was doing his best to end the violence that left three young Israelis dead and four others wounded in two terrorists attacks in Israel on Sunday. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a terrorist organization affiliated with Abbas' ruling Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the murders.
The PA chairman said he has taken "active steps" to impose the rule of law and public order," but added that Israel needs to "do more" to foster an atmosphere of peace by returning to the Roadmap peace plan promoted by Bush.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had equally critical words on Wednesday for Israel prior to her meeting with Abbas. Rice warned at a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Israeli construction between East Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim was in direct contradiction to the Bush administration policy in the Middle East.
Abbas was scheduled to meet with Senate and House leaders later in the day, followed by a final meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney before returning to the Middle East.
Arutz-7 - 20 Oct