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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Israel and 'Palestinians' agree on something: No US benchmarks

Hamas and its associates today rejected the US 'benchmarks' that were delivered last week to Israel and the 'Palestinians'. And for its part, the State Department is now saying that it won't try to impose the plan on the parties. Here's Hamas' rejection:
"The American plan is rejected and we will work to make it fail by any means and by all means," said Fawzi Baroum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, echoing comments by Hamas' political leader Khaled Meshal.

The militant group Popular Resistance Committees also rejected the document. "The U.S. plan does not serve our people's interests," said PRC spokesman Abu Abeer on Saturday, vowing that "the [PRC] will work to make it fail."

Meshal told a rally in Syria on Friday that the Palestinians should not agree to halt rocket fire in exchange for an easing of travel restrictions.

"I swear it's a farce ... the equation has now become: dismantling the checkpoints, in exchange for [giving up] resistance," he said in comments carried by Al-Jazeera. "This has become the Palestinian cause."

Israel said Meshal's comments show the true nature of the group. "We never had any illusions as to the policies and goals of the Hamas and unfortunately his remarks do not come as a surprise," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said.
And the Americans say they won't try to impose the plan:
Deputy U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Friday that the United States would not impose on either side the demands listed in the document, nor impose deadlines for their implementation. "These are suggestions and ideas that we have circulated. It's not any kind of formal agreement nor is it something that is being enforced on anybody," he told reporters.

"There is no effort to try and say 'Next week, you'll do this, the week after that, you'll do that,'" Casey said. "The idea would be to do these in fairly quick order, though."

He said the measures would contiribute to implementing phase one of the "road map" peace plan for the region.
But Secretary of State Rice is due to arrive here on May 15, and I suspect we have not heard the last of this.


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