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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Abbas to use taxes transferred from Israel to pay PA security forces

Abbas to use taxes transferred from Israel to pay PA security forces
By News Agencies update - 20:07 27/01/2007

A senior aide to Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday that the Palestinian Authority
chairman will use some of the $100 million in tax rebates recently
transferred by Israel to pay overdue salaries of the Palestinian security

The announcement came as fighting between the Abbas-allied security forces
and Hamas gunmen flared in the Gaza Strip over the weekend, leaving 17
people dead.

In all, Abbas is spending $152 million for salaries of the security forces
and other items, such as debt payment and welfare services, his aide, Rafiq
Husseini, told a news conference.

In addition to the Israeli tax rebates - money that was frozen after Hamas
came to power last year - Abbas has received $30 million from the United
Arab Emirates and $22 million from Qatar, Husseini said.

Since winning parliament elections a year ago, the Islamic militant Hamas
has had trouble paying 165,000 civil servants, including 80,000 members of
the security forces, because of an international aid boycott.

The international community has rerouted some of the aid to Abbas.

Husseini said the president's office disbursed $285 million in 2006, but
that it was not enough to cover salaries or maintain vital services.

Husseini reiterated that Abbas prefers the establishment of a new government
acceptable to the West, a coalition of Hamas and his Fatah movement.
However, the latest coalition talks were suspended because of the Gaza

If no agreement is reached, Husseini said, the president will go for early

Spain pledges 7 million euros in emergency aid for Palestinians

Spain pledged its support Friday for the efforts of Palestinian Authority
Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to form a national unity government in his country.

After a meeting with Abbas, Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez
Zapatero announced 7 million euros of emergency aid for the Palestinian
authority. The government in Madrid would also continue to push all
diplomatic efforts to open up the stalemated peace process this year,
officials said.

Zapatero and Abbas did not meet with the press. Rather, Spanish Foreign
Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat made
the announcement and called for an end to all violence.

They said common efforts of all those involved must produce a political

However, unity talks were suspended late Friday in the wake of ongoing

Earlier, Abbas said on it should take no more than three weeks to reach an
agreement with Hamas on forming a national unity government.

Abbas repeated his threat to call for parliamentary and presidential
elections if talks fail, but he did not say three weeks was a deadline for
requesting a new ballot.

"We are at a junction now, either yes or no. I would tell you, this doesn't
need more than two weeks, maximum three weeks," Abbas told a news conference
at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Palestinian factions resumed talks this week on forming a new coalition with
the aim of ending a Western aid embargo on the Hamas administration.
Sanctions are designed to force Hamas to recognize Israel, renounce violence
and accept past peace deals.

On Friday, as violence escalated between Fatah and Hamas in Gaza, the
clashes forced the postponement of unity government talks originally
scheduled to resume Friday.

"The entire dialogue could explode," Fatah spokesman Tawfiq Abu Khoussa
said, blaming Hamas for the tension. "How can dialogue go on when there is a
bomb underneath the table?" The talks were pushed back to Sunday.

Similar talks broke down last year between Abbas's Fatah and Hamas, which
won elections a year ago.

"If we fail to achieve a national unity government that allows us to lift
the siege, I will call for presidential elections," Abbas said.

Abbas also said he expects to hold talks with the United States and Israel
within a month on the framework for establishing a Palestinian state.

"I don't have a specific date. Maybe it needs a month, within a month,"
Abbas said.

Any agreement reached on the final borders for a Palestinian state, which
Abbas said must recognize the pre-1967 borders of Israel, would be sent to a
referendum of the Palestinian people, he said.

Indonesia eyes Hamas meeting to end infighting

Indonesia wants to hold a special meeting with Hamas this year, a Jakarta
official said on Friday, aimed at helping end internal rifts between the
Palestinian ruling group and other factions.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, wants Palestinian
factions to end their infighting and form a united government that could
open chances for the establishment of a Palestinian state that could
co-exist with Israel.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda would use a meeting with Hamas
leader Khaled Meshal in Damascus in early February to discuss convening an
Indonesia-Hamas conference in Jakarta, Indonesian foreign affairs spokesman
Kristiarto Legowo told a news briefing.

"The minister has said the timeframe was within three months. We need to
have agreement with the involved parties in this matter first," said Legowo.

Asked whether anyone from Fatah, the rival group to Hamas, would be invited
to the Jakarta conference, Legowo said: "We will only convene with Hamas

Last May, the Hamas government's foreign minister Mahmoud al-Zahar visited
Indonesia and called on Jakarta to take a role in the troubled Middle East
peace process.

Legowo said the Indonesian foreign minister planned to talk to Meshal about
the meeting. "They will brainstorm what methods are best to realize our

Indonesia is legally secular and its predominantly Islamic population is
largely moderate, but many Indonesian Muslims are passionately
pro-Palestinian and Jakarta has no formal ties with Israel.

Indonesia supports the Israeli-Palestinian "roadmap" peace accord sponsored
by the so-called "Quartet" of the United States, the European Union, Russia
and the United Nations.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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