Ma'an News Agency
November 24, 2009 - 1:00am

Senior PLO official Yasser Abed Rabbo assailed Hamas on Tuesday morning, accusing the group of plotting to “ally with the devil” in order to weaken the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The criticism comes amid media reports that Hamas is poised to conclude a deal with Israel that would involve the release of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a soldier held by guerrillas in Gaza. Both Fatah and Hamas prisoners would be released.

An exchange of this magnitude would be a victory for Hamas and a potential embarrassment for the Fatah-dominated PA and PLO leadership in Ramallah, who have not secured any similar victories vis-a-vis Israel. President Mahmoud Abbas demanded a halt to settlement construction before he would head back to the negotiating table, but the recent Israeli approval of 900 homes to be constructed in the Bethlehem-area settlement of Gilo further highlighted the failure of the move.

Against this backdrop, Abed Rabbo claimed that Hamas had refused reconciliation with its rivals, and refused to be involved in the political process.

Abed Rabbo told Voice of Palestine radio, “If Hamas is not part of the negotiations, they will label them the atrocities of the devil. All they did is attack the PA and endeavor to damage national legitimacy.”

The official asserted that the PA was an extension of the PLO and its institutions, and therefore “the PLO will do whatever they can to protect the PA, the Palestinian presidency, and the Palestinian government along with all its institutions.”

These issues, he added, will be discussed during the PLO Central Council meeting on 15 December in Ramallah. The meeting will also discuss president Abbas’ decision not to seek a new term. Analysts say the PLO leaders may appoint Abbas to stay on as president, in spite of his stated desire not to continue.

With regards to the political process, Abed Rabbo said, “Two-state solution based on 4 June [1967] borderline is a basis for any negotiations, and everything should be clarified before sitting for negotiations.”

He also charged that Israeli claims that the country is ready for negotiations are an effort to escape international isolation.

Abbas dissolved a Hamas-Fatah unity government in June 2007 after the Islamic movement seized full control of the Gaza Strip, leaving it politically split from the West Bank.

In a further sign of sour relations, Hamas reported on Tuesday that the Fatah-allied Palestinian Authority security forces detained thirteen people affiliated with the Islamic movement in the last two days.

Hamas said in a statement that the detentions took place near the West Bank cities of Nablus and Tulkarem.


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