Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Alvaro de Soto, UN envoy to the Middle East peace process, has said that he strongly understands the reasons which prompted the Palestinian people to choose Hamas in the Palestinian legislative elections.
Speaking to Asharq al-Awsat, Alvaro de Soto said the Palestinian people have suffered a great deal and they want to see a change that leads to security and stability. He noted that this came in the wake of reports that the people lost confidence in the Palestinian Authority and decided to choose another party which they think would make a change and lead to security and stability in their daily life, improve their living conditions, allow the freedom of movement, and reform the Palestinian economy.
In response to a question on statements made by the Israeli officials, particularly the Israeli foreign minister, who said the Palestinian people chose a terrorist organization to lead them, Alvaro de Soto, who visited Cairo yesterday and met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abuoul Gheit and Arab League Secretary General Amr Musa, said he would not engage in a political row over the Israeli minister’s statements, but all realize that the electoral process in the Palestinian territories was sound, extremely transparent, and a model of democracy. He added: We must all respect the popular will which elected Hamas. But the movement must at the same time be up to the level of responsibility entrusted to it by the Palestinian people and make the decisions that achieve security and stability for them.
Regarding international calls on Hamas to change its charter and recognize Israel, Alvaro de Soto said, “The situation is extremely complicated. It requires all to act responsibly in view of the Palestinian people’s decision to choose Hamas and the fact that three quarters of the people want a solution on the basis of establishing two states. This prompted the PA to sign several agreements. There is also a unanimous international and Arab approval of the principle of having two states. The international community came up with the road map as a basis for the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. We have to remember the initiative Saudi King Abdullah submitted to the Arab summit in Beirut in 2002, in which he said all the Arab countries are ready to establish relations with Israel after the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
With regard to the deadline the Quartet gave to Hamas, Alvaro de Soto told reporters after meeting with Amr Mousa that the Quartet spoke about the desire of all parties to work for peace and stability. He added: We at the United Nations are well aware of the fact that the Palestinian people basically depend on aid following the deterioration of the economic and living conditions. All parties must be urged to work for the success of the peace efforts.
Alvaro de Soto did not rule out a revision of the aid extended to the Palestinians by the states and other parties in view of the recent developments pending a confirmation by Hamas that it is ready to work for a peaceful solution based on the road map, which would lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state side by side with the State of Israel, as desired by the Palestinians.
The UN envoy said Hamas must accept the road map plan and abandon its policy and seek a political solution. He indicted that responsibility for defining the side that participates in the elections or wins in them is up to the Palestinians themselves, stressing that the international community respects the people’s choice. Alvaro de Soto declined to comment on the possibility of holding meetings with the leaders of Hamas and said such a thing will not be publicized.