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Palestine PM-designate Qurei Pledges Nonstop Talks


PM-designate Qurei Pledges Non-stop Palestinian Dialogue

Hamas, Jihad Confirm They Will not Join Abu Alaa’s Cabinet

Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qurei on Sunday announced he will resume national dialogue with opposition factions after forming his government to unify Palestinians before officially suggesting a truce to Israel, as the Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups confirmed they will not join his upcoming cabinet.

Palestinian President Yasser Arafat appointed Qurei prime minister on September 10 after premier Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, resigned.

Qurei said discussions on the formation of his government might take longer than expected as he was not sure if he would be able to form the government by Friday.

since Sund the premier-designate has been holding talks in Gaza with a committee representing 13 Palestinian factions. The roar of Israeli F-16 warplanes echoed across Gaza City as Qurei, who is also known as Abu Alaa, held his consultations.

Asked if he was trying to procure a temporary cease-fire, he told reporters: “We are having a dialogue...to form the fundamental common basis and we want to negotiate with the Israelis to reach an agreement for a mutual cease-fire.”

But he added: “We have not addressed this with the Israelis officially before we formulate a unified Palestinian position.'' He also said any truce offer would be conditional on international guarantees to stop Israeli extra-judicial assassinations of Palestinian activists.

Qurei announced that the national dialogue will continue after the formation of his government.

“This dialogue will not stop, but it should continue without interruption. We must agree on everything we are going to do,” he said.

“We must reach an agreement,” he stressed, adding that “there must be a unified Palestinian position, at least in the minimum.”

Qurei met separately for two hours Sunday with Fatah leaders. A large number of the Palestine National Authority (PNA) political, security and military representatives attended the meeting.

Fatah Higher Committee member Diyab al-Louh said the meeting was consultative in nature and was complementary to the consultations Qurei held with the ruling party’s leaders in the West Bank, the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam reported on Monday.

“The issue of Hudna was discussed on the basis of reaching a truce with new and serious terms, including international guarantees,” al-Louh said.

“The success of truce is closely related to the extent the Israeli side is committed to it and to a halt to its military aggression and escalation,” he added.

Meanwhile, Islamic Jihad officials said they would be willing to discuss a new truce if it included international guarantees to prevent “Israeli aggressions” against the Palestinians. Hamas officials said they too would consider any truce proposal.

The two groups however said they would not join a Palestinian administration that would promote the US-backed “roadmap” peace plan.

“We reject participation in a government that is governed by Oslo or by any other Israeli and US project,'' Islamic Jihad official Khader Habib said, referring to interim peace deals signed in the 1990s and a peace “road map” affirmed on June 4.

Leaders of Hamas are in hiding from Israeli attack but Adnan Asfour, a political leader in Hamas, said by telephone from the West Bank that the group would not participate in the new cabinet if asked.

“Our position remains that we do not participate in a government under occupation and in a government that is governed by Oslo peace accords, which we do not accept,'' he told Reuters. His views were echoed by Hamas leaders in Beirut.

“The Hamas movement has not participated in any previous governments and will not take part in the forthcoming new government,'' a Hamas statement faxed to Reuters in Beirut said.

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