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Abbas: PLO accepts Egyptian plan for Palestinian unity

Oct. 27, 2008 2:35 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 27, 2008 2:35 P.M.)
Cairo - Ma'an - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday that the factions of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) have agreed on the Egyptian draft proposal for Palestinian political unity.

"We agreed with Egyptians on the program of reconciliation . we want to confirm that PLO factions agreed on the Egyptian draft and they support it," Abbas said in a statement carried on the official Palestinian Authority (PA) news agency, Wafa.

Abbas said that there are "no guarantees" that the Egyptian reconciliation plan will succeed, "but the Arab countries especially Egypt that is exerting all efforts to achieve reconciliation alongside the Arab League and its secretary general."

The announcement means that both Abbas' Fatah faction and its bitter rival Hamas have given their verbal support to the Egyptian plan in advance of reconciliation talks in Cairo next month. Egyptian mediators are hoping to broker an agreement to end the political crisis that began with factional fighting in June 2007. Since then rival Palestinian governments have controlled the West Bank and Gaza.

Abbas also expressed his approval that the 2002 Saudi-proposed Arab Peace Initiative is back on the table. Abbas said he was pleased that the initiative was discussed by Israeli President Shimon Peres with his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak at their meeting at the Egyptian Red Sea town of Sharm Ash-Sheikh last week.

The initiative offers Israel full normalized relations with the Arab states in exchange for a withdrawal from the lands it occupied in 1967.

"It is not an Arab-only initiative," Abbas said of the plan, "It is an Arab-Islamic one since it was approved by Islamic summit in Tehran."

Abbas stressed that normalization would not come "for free," and that the Israeli flag would only be raised in Arab states if Israel pulls out of occupied land.

Abbas added: "There are about 57 Arab and Islamic countries ready for normalization but their condition is Israeli withdrawal from occupied lands before commencing any normalization, as suggested by Mubarak."

Abbas confirmed that the Arab-Islamic initiative is the 'most precious gift to the Palestinian cause since 1948.'

Asked about a recent shuffling of Palestinian security officials and the dismissal of Palestinian General Intelligence chief Tawfiq At-Tirawi, and wether these developments were related to the dialogue with Hamas, Abbas said: "At-Tirawi only [changed] his position and became the president's consultant with a minister rank."

"This issue shouldn't be magnified since all we seek is one authority, one law and one weapon," he said.

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