Julie Stahl | Jerusalem Bureau Chief | Thursday, January 04, 2007
Responding to accusations by al Qaeda that Palestinian leaders had betrayed Islam and collaborated with the United States and Israel, former P.A. minister Abu Ali Shahin said Palestinians hate America more than al Qaeda does.
Interviewed on official P.A. television on Jan. 1, Shahin wished al Qaeda success in its struggle against the U.S. and President Bush, according to a translation provided by the independent Palestinian Media Watch.
"Oh [al Qaeda] brother, leave us and focus on your business," he said, in response to the recent criticism by al Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri.
"You have Bush!" Shahin was quoted as saying. "Do to Bush what you want, and we wish you success with Bush.
"Whoever is interested in creating a split in the Palestinian camp is not serving anyone but the Americans and their protege, the Zionist Imperialist Project. We are fighting the Americans and hate the Americans more than you!" Shahin said.
Shahin described the White House and Bush as the main enemy of the Arab Palestinian people and of their national struggle.
Several years ago, Bush became the first American president to publicly call for the establishment of a Palestinian State.
Washington is backing Abbas -- regarded by the administration as a "moderate" -- in Fatah's occasionally violent struggle against Hamas, which currently controls the P.A. government.
The U.S. and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's center-left government in Israel reportedly approved a recent transfer of weapons from Egypt to Abbas' forces in the Gaza Strip.
The arms transfer, and U.S. training assistance for Abbas' presidential guard, drew criticism from some U.S. Jewish organizations, which -- pointing to past experience -- say that helping Fatah in such a way merely facilitates terrorism.
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