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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Palestine needs unified government to counter Trump, says official

Mohammed Dahlan says President Abbas must unite country against proposed US peace deal

Mohammed Dahlan, former Fatah leader. AP
Mohammed Dahlan, former Fatah leader. AP

Mohammed Dahlan, former leader of the Fatah Party in Gaza, is calling on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to form a united government to counter Washington’s proposed peace plan.

“I’m inviting Abu Mazen (Mr Abbas) to come to Gaza immediately to form a national unity government that includes all factions,” Mr Dahlan said during a rally in Gaza marking the 14th anniversary of the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Palestinian officials have voiced concern over US President Donald Trump's so-called "deal of the century" that the president says will end the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

Full details of the plan are yet to be made public but so far decisions by the White House have stirred skepticism among Palestinian officials, who believe the deal will be biased in Israel's favor.

Mr Trump this year relocated the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and decided to halt all funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

The US administration also decided to close the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's mission in Washington, which opened in 1994.

“Go to your people and strengthen and reinforce your position through them… then you’ll be able to confront the entire US administration,” Mr Dahlan said in a televised speech aired during a rally in Gaza on Tuesday.

“Instead of talking about ways to counter America’s ‘deal of the century’, a serious and active reaction is needed,” he said, calling on Mr Abbas to leverage popular support to form a national unity government.

Mr Dahlan, 57, was elected to Fatah’s Central Committee in 2009, but increased tensions with Mr Abbas resulted in his expulsion from Fatah in 2011.

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Read more:

Trump's 'deal of the century' will not bring peace to Palestine, Abbas adviser says

Palestinians fear sidelining of Abbas will deepen division in favour of Israel

Trump's Israel-Palestine 'deal of the century' will be biased and flawed, says ex-Arab League head

US envoy: Israel may object to some parts of peace plan

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The Palestinians are seeking to establish an independent state in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, territory captured in the 1967 Middle East war, and the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

President Abbas insists on a return to 1967 pre-war borders – a claim that Israel has repeatedly rejected.

A former peace negotiator with Israel who speaks Hebrew and who was born in a refugee camp, Mr Dahlan also called for an immediate meeting with Egyptians officials, who he hopes will help settle disputes between Fatah and Hamas and ease tensions along Gaza's border with Israel.

The Fatah movement, led by Mr Arafat, runs the West Bank, dominates the internationally-recognised Palestinian Authority and has been responsible for negotiations with Israel.

Hamas, it's foe, is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood and has driven Fatah officials loyal to Mr Abbas from Gaza.

Hamas now controls the coastal strip of Gaza that is home to two million people since 2006.

A decade later, in 2017, Fatah and Hamas brokered a reconciliation deal in which the Palestinian Authorities would have administrative control over both Gaza and the West Bank, but the implementation of that deal has stalled.