Abbas censures Israel ahead of talks

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas has voiced his strongest criticism of Israel since agreeing to a truce with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a month ago.

Abbas is to discuss the Tulkaram handover with Mofaz
Abbas is to discuss the Tulkaram handover with Mofaz

Abbas has accused Israel of delaying promises of implementing the peace process. He has also rejected a state with temporary borders.

The comments came in a speech on the opening of the 10th session of the Palestinian Legislative Council on Tuesday, in which Abbas said Israel was avoiding the implementation of its commitment towards the Palestinians.

“Such Israeli behaviour offers excuses to peace opponents,” said Abbas, accusing Tel Aviv of ignoring the Palestinian demands of releasing Palestinian prisoners, withdrawing from the Gaza Strip, ending Jewish settlements and the vexed issue of Israel’s separation wall, which is cutting its way through the West Bank.


Abbas also expressed the readiness of the Palestinian Authority to shoulder full responsibility when taking over the areas to be withdrawn from by Israeli forces.


Palestinians arrested


On the ground, Israeli occupation forces raided a town near the West Bank city of Jenin in the early hours of Tuesday.

Aljazeera’s correspondent said many Israeli soldiers stormed several houses in Qabatya and arrested six Islamic Jihad activists.

Israeli soldiers have recently intensified their crackdown on members of Islamic Jihad, blamed by Israel for the recent Tel Aviv bombing.

The meeting

Abbas’ speech came hours before his meeting with Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz in Gaza on Tuesday.

Aljazeera’s correspondent Walid al-Umari said the meeting would take place at the Israeli side of the Erez checkpoint, north of the Gaza Strip.

“Such Israeli behaviour offers excuses to peace opponents”

Mahmud Abbas,
Palestinian president

The planned encounter is part of a series of meetings that have been held between Palestinian and Israeli officials in the past 24 hours, al-Umari said.

The latest one involved the two sides’ interior ministers, he added.

According to al-Umari, the Abbas-Mofaz meeting is expected to discuss the Israeli handover of Tulkaram city to the Palestinians and the security measures to be taken by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The two sides will review the feasibility of resuming the duties of some joint committees, especially the one dealing with the refugees.

Disarmament calls

The meeting is also expected to cover the disarmament of Palestinian factions, which is seen by Israel as the most important step for the PA to effectively secure the regained areas, al-Umari said.

Mofaz is expected to focus on armed groups’ disarmament 

Mofaz is expected to focus on 
armed groups’ disarmament 

Israel has stepped up its calls for the disarmament of the armed groups after the Tel Aviv bombing attack on 25 March, which killed five Israelis.  

On the Palestinian side, Abbas is expected to get clarification on the nature of the Israeli withdrawal and whether Israeli checkpoints would be dismantled, al-Umari said.

Other issues on how much control will be given to the Palestinians and how far-off the withdrawing Israeli soldiers will station themselves, have yet to be answered.

Tulkaram will be the first city to be handed over to the Palestinians. Four other areas are to follow in later stages, Aljazeera’s correspondent said, adding that the Abbas-Mofaz meeting is expected to lay the groundwork for the Abbas-Sharon summit, to be held within two weeks.

Source : Al Jazeera

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