Israel, Palestine 'should be one'
By Donwald Pressly
-- -- The State of Palestine had already accepted the two-state solution
with Israel where it could live in peace, but ultimately one state embracing
both Jews and Arabs was the best option, Palestinian Ambassador Ali Ahmed
Halimeh said on Monday.
Speaking to the Cape Town Press Club, the ambassador — who publicly acknowledged
that he was from the Fatah faction in the country, rather than the new
predominant Hamas ruling party — said: "We are cousins (referring to the Arabic
speakers and the Jews). The only way out now in the long run, honestly ... the
best for all of us is to live together. We can make the best country of it."
Pointing to the audience — including a sizeable Jewish lobby — he said South
Africa had shown the way that differing groups could live together, congregate
in the same room and do business and travel together. "Why can't we do it?" he
He hinted strongly that President Mahmoud Abbas — elected president before Hamas
took power earlier this year — could use his constitutional power to
reconstitute the government of Palestine.
Asked specifically if there were elements in Hamas which could be won over to
recognising the state of Israel and accepting international agreements signed by
the Fatah/Palestine Liberation Organisation government of the late Yasser
Arafat, he said he believed there were such elements.
There was truth in the view that there was a more moderate wing of Hamas within
Palestine and a more radical wing without its borders — which did not wish to
The ambassador — appointed by Abbas rather than the new government earlier this
year — said any change in the government in Palestine would have to be based on
all the commitments already made — agreements with the international community
Negotiations about the future had to take place between Palestine and Israel
while Israel had to come to the party by, for instance, dealing with 10 000
Palestinians who were in its jails. He said attacks on innocent Palestinians
also needed to end.
He accused the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Almert of "stupid politics" — wanting
to attack Gaza after losing the battle in Lebanon, but not before destroying
much of that country's infrastructure.
Halimeh acknowledged that there was "a serious political crisis" in the region,
but Palestine could not allow the current standoff — with financial flows from
the outside world to underpin the government having been turned off by the
United States and much of Europe — to continue.
He said "We want to have a form of government that can run the affairs of the