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Dahlan says 'zero chance' of Israeli-Palestinian peace deal

The former Fatah strongman is a fierce rival of President Mahmoud Abbas. [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 October, 2017

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Former Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan says that Palestinian political reconciliation must be prioritised over negotiations with Israel, saying the two-state solution is now "impossible".
Former Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan says that Palestinian political reconciliation must be prioritised over negotiations with Israel, saying the two-state solution is now "impossible".

Dahlan, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Abu Dhabi since being expelled from Fatah in 2011, has been a key backroom player in recent efforts to boost Palestinian unity.

The Palestinian cabinet met in Gaza on Tuesday for the first time since 2014 as part of efforts to end a decade-long split between the PA and the Islamist Hamas movement, which runs Gaza.

The meeting of the government, which is based in the occupied West Bank, is the first step towards the internationally recognised Palestinian Authority retaking control of the territory.

"The internal Palestinian situation is more sacred, is more important and is more useful now than the so-called negotiation," Dahlan told Reuters after the cabinet meeting.

"There is a complete Judaisation of the West Bank, not only of Jerusalem. It has become impossible for the two-state solution to be implemented, therefore, there is no political horizon."

Key broker

Dahlan has been instrumental in organising a series of talks between Hamas officials and Egypt to ease restrictions in Gaza, and is also reportedly behind an influx of cash from the United Arab Emirates to support the besieged territory.

As Fatah's former security chief in Gaza, Dahlan was once a fierce rival of Hamas. But the surprising alliance has seen a boost for Palestinian reconciliation, as well Hamas' relations with Egypt.

"It was an honour for us ... that we succeeded to have those understandings between Hamas and Egypt," Dahlan told Reuters by telephone from Abu Dhabi.

"Without reconciling with Hamas and without Hamas understanding the needs of the Egyptian national security there can be no serious (Palestinian) reconciliation, and no one but Egypt is capable of playing an effective role," Dahlan said.

The former Fatah strongman dismissed the notion, however, that Palestinian reconciliation was part of a recent US-initiated push for a peace deal.

US President Donald Trump dispatched a delegation of top US envoys to the Middle East in August to discuss peace talks, but so far their efforts have failed to outline the parameters for final status negotiations.

"The chances of the so-called deal of the century is zero because (Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin) Netanyahu does not want peace and he imposed a reality of 700,000 settlers in the West Bank and in Jerusalem that made it impossible for the two-state solution to be implemented," Dahlan said.

Facing a series of corruption investigations, Netanyahu has stepped up his hard-line rhetoric in recent weeks, giving speeches in West Bank settlements where he has vowed never to remove them.

The Israeli premier has rejected ongoing Palestinian reconciliation efforts as "bogus", saying unity talks threaten Israel's existence.  

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