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Abbas seeks Arab, World protection for Palestinians
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10:58, March 30, 2008

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday called on the Syrian-hosted Arab summit to help the Palestinians getting an Arab and international protection in their territories.

"Amid an ongoing Israeli escalation in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem, we are seeking Arab and international protection of our people," Abbas said in a speech during the Arab summit hosted by Syria.

Abbas focused in his speech on the Israeli practices in the Palestinian territories, mainly Jewish settlements' expansion, building the wall and the arrests in the West Bank and the military offensives on the Gaza Strip.

Only 11 Arab heads of state of the 22-member Arab League (AL), including Assad himself, attended the gathering. Saudi King Abdullah, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah II shunned the meeting amid a rift with Damascus over the Lebanese crisis. Lebanon boycotted the summit.

Abbas said that his Palestinian Authority (PA) has devoted 58 percent of its budget to support the Gaza Strip population, adding that the PA pays the salaries of 77,000 security and civil servants in Gaza and 73,000 in West Bank.

"Israel is practicing collective punishments against the Palestinian people. It hasn't stopped the ongoing arrests of Palestinians in the West Bank, keeping in jail more than 11,000 people," said Abbas.

Abbas revealed that he offered a full and mutual truce with Israel and a plan to rule Gaza Strip crossings, including the crossing on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

He warned that if the Palestinians and the Israelis don't reach an agreement on permanent status issues by the end of the year 2008, "the whole area of the Middle East would be passing through tension."

Abbas also said that the PA accepted the Yemeni initiative of reconciliation between his Fatah movement and its rival Hamas movement, calling on Hamas "to end its control of Gaza and accept the commitments of Palestine Liberation Organization to the peace process."

The seven-clause Yemeni-brokered initiative of reconciliation between rival Fatah and Hamas called for holding early legislative and presidential elections in the Palestinian territories.

"We accepted the Yemeni initiative and we believe that it should be implemented without any amendment or changes," said Abbas.

However, rival Hamas movement said it accepts the Yemeni initiative, but stressed that the initiative should be an agenda for a resumption of dialogue to discuss all outstanding issues.


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