Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Sunday, September 07, 2003

International Community Concerned over Abbas' Resignation

The international community has expressed concerns that Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas' resignation Saturday would took its toll on the flagging Mideast peace process.


The international community has expressed concerns that Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas' resignation Saturday would took its toll on the flagging Mideast peace process.

US White House spokesman Scott McClellan said in a statement Saturday the Mideast peace process is facing a "critical moment" after Abbas' resignation. He urged all the parties to "consider carefully the consequences of their actions."

Russia said Abbas' resignation "would seriously impede efforts to overcome the crisis in the Palestinian-Israeli settlement process."

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, have been involved in a power struggle for security control.Abbas' move is widely viewed as his final play of pressure to win more authority from Arafat.

A party of the Quartet, which drafted the roadmap peace plan, the European Union (EU) Saturday expressed "deep concern" over theunraveling Mideast peace process under such a "difficult and dramatic" situation in the region.

The three other parties of the Quartet are the United States, Russia and the United Nations.

Meanwhile, the Arab League (AL) urged unity of the Palestinian leadership.

Speaking to reporters, AL spokesman Hisham Youssef expressed the hope that the drastic event would not adversely affect Palestine's stance in face of Israel's aggression and arrogance.

He said all aspects of the issue will be discussed by Arab foreign ministers, who will meet in Cairo next Tuesday and Wednesday.

Egypt, the bellwether in the Arab world, called on Arafat and Abbas to remove their differences and continue to work together.

"Arafat and Abbas should work together to enable the Palestinians to confront an aggressive Israeli policy," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher told reporters when commenting on Abbas' resignation.

Terming the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories "very dangerous," Maher said "it is imperative for the Palestinian leadership to keep unity for the sake of the Palestinians."

The escalating incessant violence between Israel and the Palestinians and the power struggle in the Palestinian executive have stifled the implementation of the roadmap, which requires reciprocal steps to be taken by both sides toward peace and envisions a full Palestinian statehood by 2005.

Despite the grim situation, the United States and the EU still promised to boost the staggering Mideast peace process.

White House spokesman McClellan stressed that Washington will continue to seek the implementation of the roadmap by working withIsraelis, Palestinians, Arab states and other parties of the Mideast Quartet.

The Italian government, which holds the rotating EU presidency,also reiterated, in the name of all EU countries, the EU commitment to the Mideast peace process and to encouraging the Palestinian National Authority to push ahead on the path of internal reforms.

Abbas' resignation came on the same day when the EU foreign ministers agreed to put Palestinian radical group, Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), on its black list of terrorist organizations.

The agreement was reached by the EU foreign ministers in Riva Del Garda, a northern town of Italy on Saturday, and is widely expected to lead to the EU countries freezing Hamas assets and possibly prosecuting its activists.

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White House Reaffirms Commitment to Roadmap Plan

Russia Says Abbas' Resignation Impedes Mideast Peace Process


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