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Sunday, August 9, 2009

AJC: Fatah Party Heightens Tensions, Deals Blow to Peace Prospects

NEW YORK, Aug. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC expressed deep dismay with the Fatah Party, headed by Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, which is holding its first general assembly in 20 years.

"While much of the world, including Israel, favors a two-state solution, the biggest obstacle remains the Palestinians' own leadership," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "Despite hopes for political reform of Fatah, and steps to renew peace negotiations with Israel, longstanding Palestinian obstinacy and rejectionism have been the prevailing messages emerging from Bethlehem."

To point, Fatah adopted a measure demanding that Israel hand over all of Jerusalem before any peace talks can resume. This came after the unopposed Abbas was elected Fatah leader, assuring he will continue to serve as Palestinian Authority President.
"Two months ago, President Abbas firmly rejected Prime Minister Netanyahu's call in his Bar-Ilan University speech to resume direct Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, and now Abbas ups the ante with preposterous demands on Jerusalem and other final status issues," said Harris.

"Why can't Palestinian leaders openly recognize the fact that four consecutive Israeli prime ministers have offered a two-state solution?" asked Harris. "Sixty-two years after the UN voted to establish a Jewish and an Arab state in mandatory Palestine, even so-called moderate Palestinian leaders are still saying 'no' to recognizing Israel's legitimacy."

The Fatah General Assembly is expected to continue through Tuesday. "Given the tone and substance so far, one can only wonder how much more damage to the peace process Fatah can deliver," said Harris. "The United States and the international community should recognize the regrettable fact that this Fatah leadership gathering is a slap in the face of those who seek peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians." SOURCE American Jewish Committee