Success of dialogue slim due to inter-Palestinian controversy over UN report

11:57, October 08, 2009      

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Chances to succeed the inter-Palestinian dialogue and reach a reconciliation deal became slim on Wednesday, as controversy among the Palestinians has mounted following a postponement of a vote on a U.N. fact-finding report which accuses Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza.

The chances became small after Islamic Hamas movement applied to Egypt, the inter-Palestinian dialogue's sponsor, to postpone the signing of a reconciliation deal in Cairo due late October, unless the Palestinian president officially apologizes to the Palestinians for being behind postponing the voting.

"The crime of postponing the vote on Goldstone's report left a severe psychological crack among the victims. Abbas should immediately apologize to them and to the Palestinian people for this merciless crime," said Salah al-Bardaweel, a Gaza-based senior Hamas leader.

The UN report, which was prepared by Judge Richard Goldstone, has not only accused Israel of committing war crimes in the Gaza Strip during a 22-day military offensive that ended in Jan. 18, but also criticized Hamas whose militants also committed war crimes by firing rockets at Israeli civilians.

Al-Bardaweel revealed that there are serious contacts held with Egypt "on high levels" to study the impacts of postponing the vote on the report, on the inter-Palestinian dialogue," adding "Hamas is requested to ask Egypt to postpone the upcoming round dialogue, until Abbas apologizes to his people."

Palestinian analysts and observers expressed concerns that the current internal Palestinian controversy over the Goldstone report would weaken the opportunity to sign a reconciliation agreement that will end around three years of feuds and rifts between the rival brothers.

Hani el-Masri, a West Bank-based political analyst, told Xinhua that "the chances of signing a reconciliation agreement in Cairo by the end of this month have retreated," adding "that the outcome of Goldstone's report crisis has negatively affected the possibilities of signing the reconciliation agreement."

"These chances became slim following Hamas' call to strip President Abbas, and amid Hamas leaders' statements which called for postponing the dialogue, accusing him of a great treason and hitting his pictures with shoes of the war victims," said el-Masriin a telephone interview with Xinhua.

The veteran analyst warned of "a worrying and dangerous internal Palestinian crisis."

Meanwhile, Fatah movement's central committee member Husein al-Sheikh told reporters that there is a radical group within Hamas movement, "which doesn't want to finalize a reconciliation agreement that brings Palestinian unity back and ends the current bitter split."

"When Goldstone report was issued and accused both Israel and Hamas of war crimes, Hamas rejected it, and now when the voting was postponed for six month, Hamas suddenly supported it and used the issue of postponing to attack President Abbas and block any chance for reconciliation," said Husein al-Sheikh.

Aside from Hamas-Fatah disputes, other Palestinian political powers, as well as human rights groups, expressed their dissatisfaction over the PNA demand to postpone the voting on Goldstone's report.

The PNA officials denied the accusations, while chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters that the PNA didn't withdraw its request to vote on the UN Human Rights Council(UNHRC) report "as it was claimed, but only asked for postponing it."

"Anyhow, President Abbas formed a committee, and he will immediately discuss the reflections of the decision," said Erekat, adding "the Palestinian Authority is intending to take the report and go directly to the Security Council to ask for voting on it."

Meanwhile, Egypt, which has been sponsoring the inter-Palestinian dialogue since March, expressed hope that the upcoming seventh round of dialogue would be the last and final one which would be ended up with a reconciliation agreement signing ceremony, attended by senior Arab and international figures late this month.

Source: Xinhua
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