Abbas calls for international force in Gaza
MIDDLE EAST: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas called for an
international force in the Gaza Strip, which is now controlled by the
rival Hamas movement.
â€śWe have insisted on the necessity of deploying an international
force in the Gaza Strip to guarantee the delivery of humanitarian aid
and to allow citizens to enter and leave freely,â€ť Abbas said at a joint
news conference in Ramallah after talks with visiting Italian Prime
Minister Romano Prodi.
Abbas noted the estimated 4,000 Palestinians who have been blocked at
the Rafah crossing terminal on the Egyptian border, shut for nearly a
month since the Hamas takeover, 11 of whom are reported to have died in
the deteriorating humanitarian conditions.
Prodi said deploying an international force would require the
agreement of all the parties involved and that the question â€śhas not yet
been examined in detail,â€ť according to the Arabic translation of his
Abbasâ€™s call threatened to further widen the yawning Palestinian
chasm, as Hamas has warned that it would not accept any foreign troops
in Gaza and would treat them as an occupying power.
The chief of Hamasâ€™s parliamentary bloc, Salah al-Bardawil,
reaffirmed the position on Tuesday.
â€śWe will not accept the presence of an international force,â€ť he said
during a press conference in Gaza.
â€śThe arrival of such a force would be a flagrant intervention in
Palestinian affairs and a new occupation that we totally reject,â€ť he
said, accusing Abbas of â€śallying himself with foreigners against Hamas.â€ť
The United States gave a lukewarm response to Abbasâ€™ call.
â€śThe focus should be on building up functioning, capable, responsible
Palestinian security forces that are capable of functioningâ€ť in Gaza and
the Israeli-occupied West Bank, said State Department spokesman Sean
â€śIâ€™m not sure that youâ€™re going to find too many forces willing to go
into what I expect is a non-permissive environment,â€ť McCormack said,
adding that Abbasâ€™ proposal would have to be studied.
â€śIâ€™m not sure itâ€™s gotten a lot of traction at this point. But look,
if serious people come up with ideas and they float them, of course
weâ€™ll take a look at them,â€ť he added.
Ramallah, Wednesday, AFP