Thursday, September 20, 2007
What is Ahmad Youssef Smoking Anyway?
"Bethlehem – Ma'an exclusive - The political adviser to the de facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, told Ma'an on Thursday that Fatah and Hamas have engaged in a secret dialogue, in an attempt to break the current political deadlock.
Ahmad Youssef also revealed the details of draft solutions drawn up by various Arab mediators, negotiating between the two sides.
"The conditions are now better for the two sides to accept Arab interventions and there are efforts and the willingness by Fatah and the presidency to deal with them," he told Ma'an.
He also added that there are factions within the Fatah movement and the presidency that are more willing than ever to accept mediation.
"Reconciliation will be achieved after all institutions and security sites are turned back to the Palestinian authority, and the Cairo and the Mecca agreements are implemented. We will hand over everything on condition we sit around the negotiating table so as to restructure several issues, specifically the security file," he said.
Truce with Israel
Youssef said that Hamas is ready for a long-term truce with Israel, adding that Hamas was ready to commit the Palestinian parties to the ceasefire if in turn Israel committed itself to opening the crossings.
But he threatened to use "all means" in response to Israeli attacks, the continued blockade of the Gaza Strip and the world's indifference to the suffering of the Palestinians.
"We have received communications from religious institutions and Jewish rabbis to try to maintain a truce for six months in exchange for keeping the crossings open," he said.
Youssef said that contact between Hamas, religious institutions and Jewish rabbis may play a prominent role in the solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. He claimed that the rabbis have a strong relationship with the Israeli Defense Ministry and they are trying to contact Hamas to set up a meeting in the Gaza Strip. "