01/27/2006, 00.00
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Palestine, Catholic Fatah member elected to parliament; a path to peace is still possible

Bernard Sabela, elected in Jerusalem: Hamas must not disappoint the voters but continue the peace process with Israel.  "Premature" the concerns regarding sharia law.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Within the new Palestinian government there are some who still have faith in dialogue between Hamas and Israel.  Prof. Bernard Sabela, a Catholic member of Fatah elected to parliament is "optimistic" :  if Hamas wants to avoid disappointing voters then it will have to continue the peace process, Palestinians want stability.  Then he reassures Christians : it's premature to speak of  sharia.

Sabela, who is also a professor at the Pontifical University in Bethlehem, won one of the two seats assigned to Christians in Jerusalem.   The politician holds the January 25th poll " a victory for Hamas and for democracy".  "People decided  – he says- and  now Hamas must respond to the peoples demands and needs and they must do so quickly".  "If the leaders are sincere in their intent in to help the population, then Hamas must answer the calls of the people who voted them into power".  For this reason Sabela says he "hopeful"  that a path to peace is still possible: "The government cannot separate the political plan from the social need and to ensure stability education , employment , to fight the economic crisis, they will have to have an agenda which foresees the end of occupation and progress in the peace process". "If you lead the political process in your nation and the people are in need of basic services, and stability you must make that political process work", he adds.

As with Fatah, within Hamas itself there are differing positions, both moderate and extremist: "I hope that within a relatively short time a clearer line will be drawn within the party itself .  I am optimistic and I think that reason will prevail".

The same Fatah- up until now in control of the Palestinian national authority – needs to examine its situation: "Where we made mistakes, what we must change and reform in order to become stronger once again".

According to Sabela it is still too soon to say what type of relationship will be formed by the two principal parties within the future government. "Certainly, it will be the majority party who forms the government".

The Professor defines as "premature" the concerns expressed by many Christians shortly after the vote regarding the risk of the introduction of Islamic law.   He reassures " I see no panic among the Palestinian Christian community and I am positive that in the remote possibility of there being a proposition, we will make our position known and clear to the legislative council".

Regarding Israel's position, its reiteration of its refusal to debate with Hamas, the Professor reminds us that already in the past Tel Aviv held the same position towards the PLA ( Palestinian Liberalization Organization), at the time also defined as a terrorist organization, but then accepted as a partner in dialogue.   "The same thing could happen with Hamas only that the situation at the moment is more urgent: we must come to the negotiating table and soon it can no longer be put off".


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See also
For Israel, it's time to negotiate peace with Hamas
Whether for Fatah or Hamas Jerusalem Palestinians go to the polls
Electors want peace with Israel: the constraint on Hamas
Unknown factors in Palestinian elections (an overview)
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