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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 March 2005, 11:00 GMT
Excerpts: Mahmoud Abbas
The head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, spoke to BBC Radio 4's Today programme before a Middle East conference in London.

The following are excerpts from his interview:


Such operations... have negative, devastating, damaging effects on the peace process. This is why we immediately condemned it unequivocally.

We have agreed with the Israeli side for a reciprocal bilateral ceasefire and this operation was outside the Palestinian national consensus.

We have no indication and no information pointing at the Syrians [for involvement in the bombing] and we cannot have a judgement based on no evidence.

Foreign Minister Farouk al-Shara has declared that he is in total support of the Palestinian National Authority and he condemns this operation, and it is our duty to believe him in that.


We have obtained a consensus from all factions accepting the principle of de-escalation, pacification and accepting the reciprocal ceasefire.

All the factions have accepted a political unity of authority... and they have accepted the rules that we adopted in the Palestinian Legislative Council.

We are ready for the eventuality of the Israeli withdrawal out of Gaza which is supposed to take place in July. We are confident that we will have full security control in the Gaza Strip and we have started taking positive measures that have brought results already.

This issue has been fully understood and agreed upon with all Palestinian factions present in the Gaza Strip.


We have accepted the principle of democracy and we are committed to respect the popular verdict and the result of that national consultation.

Hamas has succeeded in a few municipal recent elections. We have respected the result and we believe this is their right as a result of the popular verdict.

One cannot legitimately rejoice at the result of the last presidential election which we won, and start questioning possible future verdicts in other consultations.


We have agreed on the purpose of this meeting, which is supporting the Palestinian National Authority and the needs of the Palestinian people.

We will pursue today the discussion we have started already in Ramallah concerning the endeavours of the National Authority, our pursuit of reforms on the level of governments, financial reforms and security harmonisation and rationalisation.

I am not asking the British government to pressure the Israeli government. All we are asking is that Britain and the international community mobilise all their resources to help us achieve the peace process that we have engaged in.


We have asked from the Americans and expect from the Americans two types of support - an economic, financial support to the Palestinian Authority and society, and a political, diplomatic support for implementation of the road map that has been agreed upon.

We expect President Bush to implement his own vision of a two-state solution, the birth of the Palestinian State and the ending of the occupation that started in 1967.

We have noticed a seriousness in the position of the American administration, and that of President Bush.

The presence and participation in the London conference by Dr Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State, is living proof of the immense interest now shown by the American administration.

We always have hoped that American diplomacy deploys itself in dialogue and persuasion rather than by ultimatums. That is the path we want in international relations.


I believe that we have put now the train on the rail and we are on the right track. As the Chinese proverb says, the long march of a thousand miles starts with the first footstep.

We need international support so that our people live a life of normality, of dignity, of liberty and freedom. I hope that our cry for freedom may be heard.

Israel and the Palestinians



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