Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Egypt holds meetings with Palestinian factions with view to restarting national unity talks

Egypt, the main broker of Palestinian reconciliation, has been extending invitations to various Palestinian factions for further discussion on problems impeding the formation of a Palestinian national unity government.

A meeting has already taken place in Cairo between Egyptian intelligence officials and representatives of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the second most important PLO faction after Fatah.

Rabah Muhanna, a PFLP spokesman in Gaza, said the Egyptians were holding meetings with factional leaders and discussing ways and means to overcome problems hindering the formation of a new Palestinian government that would be acceptable to all factions, especially Fatah and Hamas.

 Muhanna said the interim Egyptian leadership, despite its own internal troubles, was devoting real attention to the issue of Palestinian reconciliation, adding that the Palestinian situation was always and would always be a matter of Egyptian national security.

 A number of Palestinian officials have dismissed reports and rumours that the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah is not particularly enthusiastic about pursuing reconciliation talks with Hamas at a time when the PA is planning to seek international support for UN recognition of a Palestinian State.

 "We don’t think that the two tracts—national reconciliation and seeking UN recognition—contradict each other; we think they complement each other," said Azzam al-Ahmed, head of Fatah parliamentary caucus in the Palestinian Legislative Council.

 He went on to say that the Palestinians could not achieve their national goals without real national reconciliation.

 "The persistence of division is an Israeli interest. This is the reason why Israel lost composure when the initial reconciliation agreement was signed in Cairo a few months ago."

 Another Fatah leader, Mahmoud Alul, a former Governor of Nablus, said the PA would have to form the new government before September.

 "We cannot go to the UN divided and disunited. We must form the new government as soon as possible."

 Alul said contacts with Hamas were continuing and that positive results were expected soon.

 Meanwhile, a delegation of independent Palestinian figures from both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, headed by Dr. Yasser Wadyeh, met in mid-July in Ramallah with Yasser Uthman, the Egyptian ambassador to the PA.

 Wadyeh described the meeting as positive and fruitful, adding that discussions centred on getting the reconciliation agreement implemented.

 Ambassador Uthman reportedly told the delegates the Egyptian leadership was going to extend invitations to Palestinian factions for further discussion of the reconciliation issue.

 Wadyeh said the Palestinian people and their just cause suffered immensely as a result of the division. more

Israel launches air strikes on tunnels near Rafah in southern Gaza

GAZA, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- Israeli warplanes struck early on Tuesday on southern Gaza Strip in response to an earlier homemade rocket attack on southern Israel, where an Israeli woman was injured, witnesses said.

The witnesses said that Israeli F16 warplanes flew over the enclave, and then a huge explosion was heard, adding that a target in southern Gaza Strip was apparently hit by an air-to-ground missile, no injuries were reported.

They said that two Israeli missiles hit an underground smuggling tunnel in Rafah town. The runnel was destroyed, and no injuries were reported, where the Israeli aerial raid was a response to earlier homemade rocket attack.

Earlier on Monday, an Israeli army spokesman told Israel Radio that an Israeli woman was lightly injured and three others were in a state of panic after a homemade rocket fired from Gaza landed on southern Israel.

The spokesman said that Palestinian militants from Gaza launched a homemade rocket from northern Gaza Strip that landed south of the coastal Israeli city of Ashkelon. No one claimed responsibility for the rocket attack.

On Sunday, another homemade projectile was fired from the Gaza Strip and landed near the southern Israeli town of Sderot, according to the Israeli army spokesman telling Israel Radio. more