05/05/2011, 00.00
PALESTINE
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Fatah-Hamas deal brings a Palestinian state closer, says Hanan Ashrawi

Rebuilding the political system and becoming an active and pluralistic democracy are the way made possible by the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation. For Netanyahu, the deal is “a great victory for terrorism”. For Ashrawi, the Israeli leader’s words are “so ridiculous that they do not deserve an answer”.
Bethlehem (AsiaNews) – “The reconciliation pact between Fatah and Hamas opens the way to a long journey to rebuild a political system and become a vibrant, active and pluralistic democracy,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a Christian member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) executive. She spoke to AsiaNews about the historic agreement between the Fatah and Hamas, signed yesterday in Cairo. The deal calls for a unity government that will prepare presidential and legislative elections within a year. Ms Ashrawi has been involved in human rights for many years. She has also played a prominent role in Palestinian politics. Minister of Higher Education and Research in 1996, she currently chairs the PLO’s Department of Culture and Information.

Egypt’s mediation was crucial, Dr Ashrawi said, because it laid down “clear standards”. In reaching the deal, political leaders had to recognise the importance of the Arab spring. “The movements we saw and see in the Arab world gave young people and public opinion a push, and generated pressures within Fatah, Hamas and other factions”.

“Meeting Palestinian needs and demands is a necessary step ahead of September for the recognition of the independent State of Palestine,” she added, referring to the Palestinian National Authority’s decision to turn to the United Nations to demand the recognition of the international community for a Palestinian state alongside Israel within the pre-June 1967 borders, including the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

In London, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the intra-Palestinian agreement is a “tremendous blow to peace and a great victory for terrorism.”

“Sometimes Netanyahu says things that are so ridiculous that they do not deserve an answer,” Ashrawi said in a curt reply to the Israeli leader’s statement. “The Palestinian people live under the brutal military occupation by Israeli forces. The terrorism he talks about is that of Israel. Our people have been too patient.”

Among other critics of the agreement, some suggest that Christians might suffer because of the presence of Hamas and Muslim fundamentalists.

“Palestinian law is clear on tolerance,” Ashrawi said. “Christians are not a minority but an essential component of the Palestinian identity. Anyone who wants to turn Palestine into an Islamic state will not succeed”. (GM)

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