Damascus, Asharq Al-Awsat – A source at the Syrian Foreign Minister revealed Farouq al Sharaa met Farouq al Qaddumi, head of the PLO Political Bureau earlier this week and discussed the latest developments in the region in light of the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
During their meeting, the Syrian minister is said to have emphasized the need to strengthen national unity to ensure the Palestinian people achieve their legitimate right of return and establish an independent state. Both leaders had also agreed that
Israel had decided to withdraw from Gaza after a 37 year occupation because of the intifada (popular uprising) and underlined the need for continued dialogue between all factions to safeguard national unity.
For his part, al Qaddumi briefed the Syrian minister on the PLO’s view of the latest developments in the Occupied Territories and indicated the withdrawal from Gaza was the result of the Palestinian people’s sacrifices and not an Israeli commitment to peace.
Speaking after the meeting, al Qaddumi said, “We discussed issues of common interest, beginning with the Israeli withdrawal and the future of the Gaza Strip, as well as the Palestinian reaction to the new reality. Israel should not leave any trace of its occupation in Gaza . We will not agree to any sort of Israeli presence in the area; this out land and we intend to resist any attempts by Israeli to control us from the sea or the air.”
He added, “Israel ’s refusal to negotiate with the Palestinians about the future of Gaza means it does not recognize the Palestinian side as a partner in this process. We therefore will treat it the same way. Recognition needs to be mutual. We will not accept what has been said in the past because the Sharon government did not follow the peace track to peace. It destroyed the political settlement and was only forced to leave Palestinian land against its will. For the first time in our history, territory has been liberated by the Palestinian rifle.”
On reports that Syria and Lebanon had agreed the Palestinians open embassies in Damascus and Beirut, al Qaddumi said, “The PLO already has an office in Damascus . Without going into specifics, our office carried out the necessary measures and has excellent relations with the Syrian government. Since Syria has no embassy in Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority will not establish an embassy in Syria until all of Palestine is liberated.”