|PA accepts Egyptian peace conference with Israel|
|Written by Chris Perver|
|Saturday, 11 November 2006 17:00|
|Friends, this is the news I was waiting for to appear today. I was going to report on the Palestinian unity government this morning, but I held off until something substantial came in. You see, President Abbas stated that a unity government could be formed within three weeks. We also had the news that Israeli Prime Minister Olmert was preparing to meet Abbas, in order to boost his chances in forming a government. Previous to this we had the announcement that British Prime Minister Blair was intending to tour the Middle East at the end of November. Before that we had the news that half a dozen delegations of EU Foreign Ministers were secretly visiting Syria, trying to jolt Assad into joining the peace process. And again previous to that, we had the announcement that Javier Solana, the High Representative for the European Common, Foreign and Security Policy, was intending to take a second tour the region at the end of November. My suspicions are that something very big is about to happen in the Middle East, possibly before Christmas. Earlier in the year, I had predicted that the EU would be one of the major backers of a Palestinian unity government. This morning, news came through that tomorrow, EU Ministers are expected to officially endorse the creation of a PA unity government... |
Quote: "European Union foreign ministers are expected Monday to reiterate their support for the efforts of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to form a unity government with Hamas amid fears of increased factional violence in the Gaza Strip. The EU ministers were to issue a declaration urging reconciliation between Hamas and Abbas' Fatah movement. Abbas said Saturday he hoped a united government could be formed by the end of the month leading to an end of the international aid boycott imposed when Hamas took over the government in March.
But what got my attention tonight was news that Hamas has accepted an Egyptian initiative calling for a peace conference to be held between the UN, the Palestinians and the Israelis. Especially considering the developments of recent days - with the Beit Hanoun tragedy, and Hamas' resolute refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist, it is surprising that Hamas is even willing to consider attending a peace conference with Israel. Even Prime Minister Haniyeh's willingness to step down for the sake of the Palestinian people is a considerable change of tact.
Quote: "Zahar, of the ruling Hamas party, endorsed a statement by Arab foreign ministers calling for the peace conference during a meeting in Cairo, said the diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. “The ministers call to convene a peace conference attended by Arab parties, Israel and the permanent members of the UN Security Council in order to reach a just and comprehensive settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict on all tracks according to international resolutions and the principal of ‘land for peace’,” the statement said.
Now I don't know whether anything will come of this conference, or even if Israel will agree to it. But I feel something major is going on in the Middle East right now, and that soon after Abbas announces his unity government, I believe we can expect a massive push for a regional peace agreement. I think the EU has realized that they cannot leave Israel and the Palestinians to fight it out themselves, that if there is going to be peace, it will have to be mediated.