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Palestinians reject Netanyahu's remarks, call for unity
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09:34, June 15, 2009

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The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and other political factions, mainly Hamas movement, rejected on Sunday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech and called for strengthening unity among the Palestinians to confront the upcoming challenges.

Netanyahu delivered a speech at Bar Ilan University in Tel Avivon Sunday night, in which he said he would accept a demilitarized Palestinian statehood only when the Palestinians recognize Israel as the national homeland of Jews.

The hawkish premier also said that Israel will not completely halt Jewish settlement in the West Bank and the Palestinian refugees can not return back to their homeland in Israel. He encouraged achieving economic peace with the Palestinians.

"We were not surprised by Netanyahu's speech and all that it has included. He rejected stopping the settlement activities and rejected the principle of the two-state solution," senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters in Ramallah.

Nabil Abu Rdineh, spokesman of the Palestinian Presidency, told reporters in Ramallah that Netanyahu's speech "had blown up all former initiatives and expectations and he put the obstacles before all the exerted efforts."

"Not recognizing east Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state and his attempt to resolve the refugees question outside the borders of Israel won't lead to a just and comprehensive peace in the region," said Abu Rdineh.

Erekat has meanwhile slammed the speech by saying "his speech was deceiving and I call on those who listened to this speech not to be deceived," adding "Netanyahu can wait one thousand years to find one single Palestinian who accepts his plans mentioned in his speech."

The Palestinian negotiator called on the Palestinians to achieve, as immediate as possible, a national unity and sign a reconciliation deal, in reference to the disputes between rival Fatah and Hamas movements.

Netanyahu hasn't referred to the Arab Peace Initiative for achieving comprehensive peace with Israel, which was approved by the Arab League in Lebanon in 2002, but he called on Arab leaders to make peace with Israel, expressing his readiness to go to Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

"I call on the Arabs not to make any political normalization with Israel before Israel shows a clear commitment to following the Arab Peace Initiative and ending the military occupation of the Palestinian territories occupied in the war of 1967," said Erekat.

On June 4, U.S. President Barack Obama addressed a speech from Cairo University in Egypt, where he vowed to find a fair solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The administration of Obama had urged Netanyahu to accept the two-state solution and freeze the construction of settlements in the West Bank.

"I say to President Obama that Netanyahu's speech was a slap to your speech. Netanyahu is challenging you and insists not stopping settlements or ending the military occupation," said Erekat.

In Gaza, Islamic Hamas movement and Islamic Jihad had also slammed Netanyahu's speech and said that the only choice remained for the Palestinians to gain their legitimate rights is by achieving the national unity and approving the choice of armed resistance to liberate the occupied Palestinian territories.

Ismail Radwan, a senior Hamas leader in Gaza, told Xinhua on telephone that Netanyahu's speech "was so radical," adding that Netanyahu "denied the legitimate rights of the Palestinians, erased the Palestinian refugees' rights to return and rejected Jerusalem as the capital of the independent Palestinian state."

"His speech is a slap on the face of all those who bet on negotiations with Israel. It represents also a response to all the Arab and Palestinian calls to hold peace negotiations with Israel. What is to be done immediately now is to stop immediately all the ties with Israel," said Radwan.

Following Netanyahu's remarks, Hamas called on the PNA "to disconnect all ties with Israel and halt all types of security coordination in the West Bank."

Islamic Jihad leader Sheikh Nafez Azzam in Gaza urged the Palestinians, the Arabs and Moslems "to be united in order to protect the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and to confront the Israeli fanaticism."

Source: Xinhua

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