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Demonstrators shout slogans during a protest against Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Ankara February 14, 2007. Olmert will arrive in Turkey for a two-day official visit on late Wednesday. The banner reads “Murderer Olmert go home”.
A historic new phase in the Palestinian struggle for freedom and independence has begun. Last week’s Mecca agreement between Hamas and Fatah will pave the way for the first ever truly Palestinian national unity government. Hamas and Fatah, joined by all the other Palestinian factions, will now seek to rebuild Palestinian society following the destruction brought upon it by Israeli occupation and resume the campaign for our national rights.
We are determined to make sure that the recent internal fighting, which appalled our people and dismayed their supporters around the world, becomes history. We firmly believe that it would never have happened had it not been for foreign intervention and the brutal sanctions imposed on our people by Israel and its allies. The crisis would not have existed had international and regional powers respected the results of last year’s democratic elections in Palestine.
The Mecca agreement has laid the foundations for a power-sharing process that will produce a functioning government capable of attending to our people’s needs. It will also pave the way for rebuilding the PLO to include all the factions and become the legitimate representative of all Palestinian people. The partnership born out of the Mecca meeting is possible because of the consensus among the Palestinians that their primary objective is to win their freedom, and that their struggle should be solely against occupation. It is now up to the international community to respect this accord and the will of the Palestinian people.
We Palestinians have been the victims of invasion, occupation and oppression for almost a century. Yet we have been constantly blackmailed to make concessions and give up yet more of our legitimate rights. Since the elections of January 2006 our people have been boycotted and punished by the international community for exercising their democratic rights. In the meantime, Israel has continued to kill and detain Palestinians on a daily basis, demolishing hundreds of houses and making thousands homeless.
Today Israel has more than 11,000 of our brothers and sisters in jail and continues to deny millions of refugees the right to return to their homeland. It has defied international law by proceeding with the construction of the apartheid wall and building settlements on land expropriated from Palestinians. Meanwhile, excavation resumed last week in the compound of al-Aqsa mosque, and on Friday the mosque, to which access is denied to Palestinians below the age of 45, was invaded by Israeli troops who wounded scores of worshippers.
Continue reading ‘Our unity can now pave the way for peace and justice’
Chicago Tribune, 7 February 2007
At the age of 82, Jimmy Carter entered the lion’s den. With the publication of his latest book, “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid”, he did what a patriot would do: rally Americans to vigorous debate of a critical issue that affects our future. He deserves a hero’s praise. Instead, he has been attacked and defamed.
I had the honor to serve as the senior Republican on the Middle East Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee throughout the Carter administration. Carter frequently invited me to huddles in the White House; discussions that would ultimately lead to a lasting peace between Israel and Egypt. I know Carter well and consider him a friend.
I also experienced firsthand what Carter now faces. Toward the end of my 22-year tenure in Congress, I spoke in favor of Palestinian rights and was critical of Israeli policies of Palestinian land confiscation and Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian lands. These actions were counter to American policy and values. They dimmed chances for peace.
As a result of my evenhanded position, the pro-Israel lobby poured money into my opponent’s campaign. I overcame their challenge in 1980 but lost in 1982 by a narrow margin. Still, the message was heard loudly on Capitol Hill: Criticize Israel and pay with your congressional seat.
In my 1985 book, “They Dare to Speak Out,” I detailed the tactics used to silence criticism of Israeli policies. One of the groups employing these tactics is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. On its Web site, AIPAC calls itself “America’s pro-Israel lobby” and boasts a New York Times description of it as “the most important organization affecting America’s relationship with Israel.”
All citizens have the right to band together and push for policies they believe are right. But AIPAC and other pro-Israel lobby groups do not plead the case for Israel on the stage of public opinion. Instead, they often resort to smear campaigns and intimidation to clear the floor so that only their side is heard.
Continue reading ‘Carter Enters Lions’ Den’
The following is the text of the letter from president Mahmud Abbas asking Hamas premier Ismail Haniya to form a new government.
In my capacity as chairman of the PLO Executive Committee and President of the Palestinian National Authority and after reviewing the Basic Law and based on the authorities vested in me:
First: I commission you to form the next Palestinian government within the set period as stipulated in the Basic Law.
Second: after concluding the formation of the government and presenting it to us, the government will be presented to the Palestinian Legislative Council to get the confidence vote.
Third: I call upon you as PM of the next government to abide by the interests of the Palestinian people and to preserve their rights and maintain their accomplishments and develop them and work on achieving their national goals as ratified by the resolutions of the Palestinian National Council (the PLOâ€™s legislative body) meetings and the Basic Law articles and the national conciliation document and Arab summit resolutions and based on this, I call upon you to respect the Arab and international legitimacy resolutions and agreements signed by the PLO.
May God help you in your steps and duties.
Continue reading ‘President Mahmoud Abbas (Fatah) letter to Ismail Haniya (Hamas)’