CAIRO: The Fatah party of the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, has given a signed copy of a proposed unity accord with rivals Hamas to Egyptian mediators, as the Islamists asked for more time to consider the deal.”I handed over the signed agreement and said what I had to say,” a Fatah negotiator, Azzam al-Ahmed, said. ”Now we are waiting for Hamas’s response.”Hamas said earlier it wanted more time to study the deal and demanded that the accord include a clause on the right to resist Israeli occupation.”Hamas has officially asked Egypt to give it two to three days to complete its internal consultations,” the Hamas-run government spokesman, Taher al-Nunu, saidA Damascus-based spokesman for Hamas and other hardline groups also criticised the agreement earlier, saying it ”lacks a political vision concerning the conflict [with Israel] and the aggression against our people”.”The Palestinian factions will not sign the accord … unless the text includes the principles and the rights of Palestinians, especially that of resisting the Zionist occupation,” Khaled Abdel Majid said. The deal should include the question of ”Jerusalem and the dangers of ‘judaisation’ and permanent aggression that threaten this holy city”, as well as ”the right of return for Palestinian refugees to their homes”.Israel, meanwhile, has urged the United Nations Human Rights Council not to ”reward terror” by endorsing a report accusing the Jewish state and Hamas of war crimes in the Gaza conflict, whereas Navi Pillay, the UN’s top human rights official, has backed the report.Mrs Pillay’s endorsement of the report by an expert group led by Judge Richard Goldstone came as Israel warned the UN Human Rights Council that approving the document risked undermining Middle East peace.”The resolution, as proposed, will be a reward for terror and will send a clear message to terrorists everywhere,” Aharon Leshno Yaar, Israel’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, told the 47-state council.”They will clearly hear that this new form of warfare, as used by Hamas in Gaza, will offer immunity as countries will be prevented from waging effective responses,” he added as the council weighed up the report produced by an independent fact-finding mission.The US has taken a similar view that excessive attention to the report and alleged crimes in the Gaza war could hamper efforts to rejuvenate struggling peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians.But Mrs Pillay said it was necessary for both sides ”to carry out impartial, independent, prompt, and effective investigations into reported violations of human rights and humanitarian law” as recommended by the report.The report said Israel and Hamas, Gaza’s rulers, committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity during a 22-day conflict ending in January that Israel launched in response to rocket fire from the coastal enclave. The conflict left 1400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.The Goldstone report recommends referral of its conclusions to the International Criminal Court prosecutor in The Hague, if Israel and Hamas fail to conduct credible investigations within six months. It also recommends the UN Security Council set up a team of experts to monitor and report on any investigations undertaken by Israel on the allegations.Agence France-Presse, Associated Press
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