Erekat: if no peace, no moderates

A failure to achieve a peace agreement this year could force out Palestinian moderates, the top Palestinian negotiator said.

“If we have an agreement by the end of this year and we put the agreement to a national public referendum, I really believe that we will prevail,” Saeb Erekat said last week, after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with President Bush and urged him to press Israel to freeze West Bank settlements. “But to be candid with you and honest with you, if we don’t – and I mean President Abbas and his team – have an agreement by 2008, we stand the chance to disappear.”

Erekat, who was addressing Washington’s Palestine Center think tank, said a failure to achieve a peace agreement would bolster arguments by the Hamas terrorist group that violence is effective in forcing out Israelis, referring to slogans Hamas used after Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005 without negotiating the withdrawal with Abbas’ government.

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