Hamas uncompromising
on resistance stance

Senior Hamas leader, Ismail Abu Shanab said the ceasefire was still under discussion and a bilateral meeting with Abbas was scheduled for Wednesday.

 

Talking to Aljazeera, Abu Shanab said the purpose of Tuesday’s meeting was to give an opportunity to Abbas  to explain the position delineated by him at the Aqaba summit.  The prime minister had committed himself to disarming the resistance groups at the summit.

 

Rejecting Abbas’s position, Abu Shanab said, "Palestinian resistance is not ‘terrorism’ at all”.

 

“In Wednesday’s meeting, different issues will be discussed,” he said, adding that, “We respect the differences in our points of view, but we will never give up Palestinian rights, particularly the right to resist.”

 

“The Israeli proposal to withdraw from north Gaza is deceptive,” Abu Shanab said. “North Gaza is just a small town (Beit Hanun), and Israel is deceiving the world about its withdrawal from some areas. On the ground, the Israeli occupation forces are establishing more settlements and escalating their attacks and violence against the Palestinians. We want them to completely withdraw. Otherwise, we will keep resisting,” he added.

 

Echoing Abu Shanab’s sentiments, Mohammed al-Hindi, a senior Islamic Jihad official, told reporters outside Abbas's Gaza office that “we have re-emphasised that resistance is a legitimate right of our people."

 

In simultaneous talks between senior Israeli and Palestinian security officials on Tuesday there appeared to be no headway over Israeli pull out of northern Gaza strip and the West Bank city of Bethelem.

 

A senior Palestinian official said the security talks hit a snag over an Israeli demand to retain control of a north-south Gaza Strip road after any pullback.

   

"The Israeli offer did not change the reality of the occupation," the official said.

   

In Gaza City, John Wolf, the US envoy charged with implementing the peace plan, met Abbas and Palestinian security chief Mohammed Dahlan on Tuesday.

   

After meeting Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Wolf told reporters he aimed to get each side to "implement commitments" made when both sides endorsed the road map at Aqaba.

 

Powell's visit

 

Wolf’s meetings come ahead of a visit by   US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s to the region on June 20.  After talks on Friday with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Powell will meet Abbas. 

 

Powell flies in to get an
update on the latest

The secretary of state will then fly to Jordan where he will meet other members of the diplomatic quartet that authored the road map – United Nations, Russia and the European Union.

   

The peace road map calls for confidence-building steps, including a Palestinian disarming of resistance groups and a freeze in the expansion of Jewish settlements on land Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.

 

Meanwhile, Israeli troops attacked the southern Gaza strip town of Rafah and destroyed two houses, Palestinian security sources said early on Wednesday.

 

They said about 15 tanks entered the impoverished town's refugee camp and Yibna area accompanied by a pair of bulldozers and opened fire.  No casualties were reported.

 

Earlier, in a Palestinian  attack on a car late on Tuesday near Kibbutz Eyal, in central Israel, a seven-year-old girl was killed and two were injured, medics in Jerusalem said.

 

Violence in the region has peaked since the 4 June Aqaba summit.