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Israel, Palestine 'should be one'

By Donwald Pressly

10/16/06 "
iafrica" -- -- 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 said.

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 compromise.

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 and Israel.

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 Palestinians."


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