Saturday, November 26, 2011

Haniyeh urges Abbas to ignore US demands

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh on Friday listed three basic factors needed to resolve a power-sharing deal with his Fatah rivals: ditch the US, stick to the terms of the May agreement, and find an alternative to Israeli tax-collection.

Speaking at the al-Omari mosque in Gaza, Haniyeh urged Fatah leader and president Mahmoud Abbas to defy US and Israeli threats, and not to respond to them under any circumstances. The US has no plans that would benefit the Palestinian people, he said.

Gaza, for example, has managed to survive independently despite many attempts from external powers to control the enclave, he said. The government and the people have managed to live in dignity thanks to assistance from Arabs and Muslims, he said.

Haniyeh said the key element of a successful power-sharing deal would be sticking to the terms of an agreement signed in May under Egyptian mediation. It should be implemented "accurately, honestly and inherently in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip," he said. The release of political detainees would be the first indication of the deal's success, he said.

However, Haniyeh said there were no political detainees in Gaza prisons, a point which Fatah leaders have disputed. Haniyeh said there were hundreds of political prisoners in the West Bank. Haniyeh said he would free political detainees in Gaza if any were in Hamas' jails.

The third factor Haniyeh mentioned was necessary reforms to a tax system in Palestine that leaves revenues in the hands of a hostile power. An alternative to Israel's collection of taxes and customs on the Palestinian Authority's behalf must be found, as it leaves domestic politics subject to foreign meddling.

The alternative should be funds from Arab and Muslim countries, he said. The Palestinian budget is small compared to the funds in Arab banks, he said suggesting Palestinian needs could be met with ease.

Haniyeh also said elections should be held in May, as planned, among other factors like forming a national unity government, rebuilding the PLO, security reforms and reconciliation between certain families.

Maan News Agency