Peace In Our Time! “Abbas’s Government Dismantling Militant Groups: Minister,” from Reuters (thanks to Sr. Soph):
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) – The top Palestinian security official said on Saturday his government was dismantling militant groups, including those connected to President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction.
The pledge by Interior Minister Abdel-Razak al-Yahya came one day after Palestinian militants killed two off-duty Israeli soldiers who were hiking near the West Bank city of Hebron. Two of the militants were also killed in an ensuing gun battle.
Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed at a U.S.-sponsored peace conference last month in Annapolis, Maryland to launch negotiations with the goal of reaching a statehood agreement by the end of 2008.
But Israel has said it will not implement any agreement until the Palestinians meet their obligations under the long-stalled “road map” peace plan to rein in militants in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Hamas Islamists seized control of Gaza in June after routing Abbas’s secular Fatah forces there, but Fatah still holds sway in the West Bank.
The Palestinians assert that they are meeting their security obligations in the West Bank by launching a security clampdown in some of the largest cities.
“There is no al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades any more,” Yahya told Voice of Palestine radio, referring to Fatah’s largest armed group.
He said Abbas’s Western-backed government has started “working to dismantle” other militant groups, though he did not spell out how that would be accomplished.
“We wish they (other groups) will respond positively and follow al-Aqsa’s example,” Yahya said.
Sorry, Yahya: “Islamic Jihad vows not to disarm,” from Xinhua (thanks to Twostellas):
GAZA, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) — A senior leader of Islamic Jihad (Holy War) movement in Gaza said on Saturday that his movement would not disarm since resistance against Israel was a way to achieve the Palestinian people’s goals.
“For us, the resistance was not our aim but a way to reach the goals of the Palestinian people who are suffering from the occupation and have no other choices to face the Israeli aggression,” said Naffez Azzam, a senior Jihad leader in Gaza City.
Azzam’s remarks came in response to earlier statements by Interior Minister of the Western-backed Palestinian government in West Bank saying al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, armed wing of Fatah movement led by President Mahmoud Abbas, was dismantled.