Abbas, Mashaal seek UN timetable to ‘end Israeli occupation’

After Qatar meeting with Hamas chief, PA president heads to Cairo

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani (center) and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal (right) in Doha, Qatar, on August 21, 2014 (AFP/PPO/Thaer Ghanem)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani (center) and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal (right) in Doha, Qatar, on August 21, 2014 (AFP/PPO/Thaer Ghanem)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas’s political leader Khaled Mashaal urged the United Nations to draw up a “timetable” for the end of the “Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories,” Qatar state media said Friday night.

Abbas and Mashaal issued the appeal during talks in Doha, as fighting continued in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Qatar’s state news agency QNA said.

The two Palestinian leaders had been holding talks in Doha since Thursday, but little else has filtered out of their meetings which were hosted by the emir of Qatar, a key backer of Hamas.

Abbas left for Cairo later Friday.

Their discussions, at the palace of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, came after fighting in Gaza flared anew on Tuesday as Egyptian-brokered truce efforts collapsed after Hamas resumed its rocket fire.

Talks broke down with Israel insistent on its demand for security from rocket fire by Gaza militants, and Hamas defiant on its call for an end to the blockade imposed on Gaza in 2007 after the group violently seized control of the Palestinian enclave. Israel and Egypt maintain the blockade to prevent Hamas bringing in weaponry.

QNA said that Abbas and Mashaal discussed Israel’s “aggression” on Gaza and underlined “the importance of acting at all levels in order to… lift Israel’s blockade of Gaza”.

They also agreed to request from the United Nations “a resolution that would define a timetable for the end of Israel’s occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state”.

The agency said Abbas would undertake the diplomatic steps necessary to seek such a resolution.

Hamas joined a national unity government with Abbas’s Fatah faction in June, sparking Israeli fury and prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end the US-brokered peace talks launched nine months beforehand.

During their meeting, Abbas and Mashaal stressed that the unity government “represents all the Palestinian people and looks after their interests”, QNA said.

It also reported that the Qatari ruler spoke by phone Friday to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to discuss efforts to stop “Israel’s aggression on Gaza and the lifting of the blockade.”

Hamas has fired over 3,500 rockets at Israel in the past 46 days, including some 600 from close to schools, mosques and other civilian facilities, the Israeli army says. Some 2,000 people have been killed in Gaza as Israel seeks to thwart the rocket attacks and smash a network of attack tunnels dug by Hamas under the border. Israel says 750-1,000 of the dead are Hamas and other gunmen. It also blames Hamas for all civilian fatalities, since Hamas set up its rocket-launchers, tunnel openings and other elements of its war machine in Gaza neighborhoods and uses Gazans as “human shields.

Sixty-eight people have died on the Israeli side: 64 soldiers and 4 civilians, the latest a four-year-old boy killed by mortar fire on Friday.

During an earlier Abbas-Mashaal meeting on Thursday, Abbas reportedly took Mashaal to task over a Hamas plot to launch attacks against the PA in the West Bank, a senior Palestinian source told The Times of Israel.

Mashaal and Abbas had a “difficult” discussion, the source said, in which Abbas castigated Hamas and called its members “liars” over a Shin Bet allegation that captured Hamas operatives had confessed to a plot to attack PA forces in the West Bank and even stage a “coup” there.

Abbas also informed Mashaal that Hamas would have to choose between unity with Abbas’s Fatah movement and a permanent “divorce,” the source said, adding that the information revealed by the Shin Bet in a press release this week was already known to Abbas’s security forces.

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