President Calls for Talks between Feuding Palestinian Groups

sby.jpgUNITED NATIONS ~ President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono urged rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah this week to hold a dialogue to end their differences, saying a divided community cannot secure peace and justice in the Middle East.

“Peace in the Middle East is crucial to long-term global stability,” Yudhoyono said in an address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

But, he said, there could no be no peace in the Middle East unless there was justice, especially for the Palestinian people.

“And a divided Palestinian nation cannot secure justice,” Yudhoyono said. “Hamas and Fatah must therefore engage in dialogue and reconcile their agendas.”

The long-standing Palestinian issue became more complicated in June with the takeover of the Gaza Strip by the Western-shunned Hamas Islamists.

The bloody takeover sank the Palestinian unity cabinet and split the Palestinians into two entities, with Hamas ruling Gaza and the Western-backed moderate president Mahmud Abbas, who leads the secular Fatah faction, based in the West Bank.

Abbas sacked the Hamas-led government in the wake of the takeover and has since repeatedly said he is steadfastly opposed to any dialogue with Hamas until it returns Gaza to his authority.

Hamas has been shut out of a peace summit called by the United States in the fall.

Abbas, attending the UN meeting in New York, wanted the summit to cover core issues such as the possible borders of a future Palestinian state, the status of the contested holy city of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian migrants.

Yudhoyono also said that a revived Arab initiative to end the Israeli-Palestinian crisis “must catalyze political change” in the region.

That initiative, first launched in 2002, offers Israel peace and normal relations with all Arab states in return for its withdrawal from the territories it occupied in the 1967 war and a just settlement for Palestinian refugees.

The Arab plan was revived this year with Saudi Arabia, which has no diplomatic ties with Israel, along with the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Egypt comprising an Arab quartet set up to promote the initiative.

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