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'Palestinian govt. unyielding to US'
Fri, 29 Apr 2011 08:01:18 GMT
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Ahmad Yusef, advisor to prime minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza
Today, Palestinian political parties Hamas and Fatah have taken a step toward a unity government - - a deal brokered by Egypt with a promise to open the Rafah Crossing in the near future.

Press TV talks with Ahmad Yusef, an advisor to Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza, about the latest development. Following is a transcription of the interview with the support of other guests on the program.

Press TV: Would you tell us why this deal has come to fruition after so many years and explain the different facets behind the deal and whether differences between the two parties have been resolved?

Yusef: There are at least four reasons. That is why people are surprised to see the Palestinian tribes bridge the gap and reconcile the rifts.

No doubt the chain of revolutions that have occurred and are occurring in the Arab world particularly in Egypt has significantly affected the Palestinian question.

The second thing is the failure of the peace process or the futile negotiations between Mr. Abbas and the Israelis.

Thirdly, we can see the disappointment of the American position. They have vetoed every UN resolution against Israel and the one regarding Israeli settlements. They stand behind Israel, even though they condemned the building of settlements.

And the fourth reason comes from the voice of the youth in Palestine who became fed up with the political division and they see that no one is winning because of the division and they have pushed for the parties to end their division and reconcile the rift. The energy of the youth has made a difference in persuading both Hamas and Fatah to listen to what the people on the street are trying to tell them.

Press TV: You mentioned about the landscape that is now new across the Arab world and Egypt. Egypt brokered the talks between the two parties. Given the different elements, in terms of moving toward peace and taking into account a list of reactions that have come from Israel in response to this reconciliation - How confident are you of this actually moving forward?

Yusef: Regarding threats from Israel and the Americans I don't think we are paying that much attention to them; it's all nonsense. This is a Palestinian issue and we have tried all these years to bridge the gap between the Palestinians. The countries that are being co-opted by the Americans like Egypt and pressure from Israel have made us divided and placed in a losing position. Israel benefitted from this division, but Palestinians know that a house divided can't stand.

Fixing our house is the only way we can unify our people and salvage the damage that has occurred in the social and political fabric. It's also the only way that we can keep the solidarity coming from around the world to support the Palestinians. This is what is important and what the Americans or Israelis say is nonsense. They have never tried to help us and through failed negotiations and compromises what have we got from that - nothing, a big zero.

We now realize that this is the time to unify the Palestinians and this is demonstrated in the signing of the agreement in the new climate of the region; and working hand in hand with our people and the mobilizing of people around the world to show solidarity with the Palestinian people.

In the future when we have the election and work hard to reform and restructure the PLO, this will give us the strength that we need and the vision and goals about liberating our land to form a Palestinian state. This is a vision of which we have to work together with Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims from countries that have always supported us.

We hope to benefit from Egypt as a new leader in the region, from Iran, from Turkey. We don't pay that much attention to America because they have never been fair to us, they have offered no respect toward us or helped us achieve a free Palestinian state.

Press TV: Interesting comments Mahmud Abbas made in terms of optimism shown when he said that peace talks with Israel are still going to be possible during the term of this interim government that has been formed as part of the unity deal. The optimism by Abbas, what do you attribute it to?

Yusef: Abbas does not want to lose the world community and that is why he continues to talk about peaceful negotiation and hoping that he will be able to strike a deal with the Israelis. This is something he has to say, but we understand from the unity government that we gave him a mandate to go and negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian people and in that time we told him that if something comes out of the negotiations he should submit it to the Palestinian national council if the people agree that it is a good deal the people will sign it and we will back you in the government.

So he understand that he can take the mandate and negotiate on behalf of the Palestinian people, but at the end of the day he has to submit what he has achieved from negotiations to the Palestinian National Council.

Press TV: Let me tell you what he has said... and I'm taking this out of context... he says he is going to 'handle politics and negotiations'. So I'm wondering what that in itself means?

Yusef: He is in a very unique situation because in a year from now we are going to have a transitional government. This government will focus on how to rebuild Gaza and focus on many internal problems. This government is not going to be involved with any issue with the Israelis and that is why President Abbas will take the responsibility and authority to continue to negotiate with the Israelis.

But there are conditions in his negations that include the Israelis must stop building settlements and until the Israelis agree on that he will talk to the world community. We had something in September, which was the promise from the Americans and from the Europeans that they would help the Palestinians to declare a Palestinian state hoping that this will help him. He is not going to say 'no I'm not going to negotiate with the Israelis', but he will say 'first stop the settlement building and then we can resume negotiations'.

Everyone knows Israel is not going to stop the settlements and I don't think they are serious about achieving peace with the Palestinian people. They talk politics, but they are doing the act of war all the time.

Press TV: The future you see for Gaza given the fact that the siege has been going on for quite some time, under the united parties, what effort will be made in terms of the outreach politically?

Yusef: Once we have the national reconciliation the Egyptians promised just today; they have said they will open the Rafah crossing fully for the Palestinians to trade goods. I do also believe there are many flotillas to come to Gaza to break the siege and this will be a combined development that will challenge the Israelis and put them in a corner.

So I am very optimistic about the near future that this siege will be lifted and that the world community will find a way to deal with Gaza especially the Europeans.

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