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Politics

German Social Democrats defends ties to Fatah

Germany's opposition Social Democratic Party has defended its contact with the Palestinian party Fatah. The German party has come under criticism for a joint paper it published last week.

The chairman of Germany's Social Democrat Party (SPD) Sigmar Gabriel (pictured above) on Monday rejected criticism of his opposition party's link with Fatah, which is led by President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas.

"I don't understand the criticism," said Gabriel. The Fatah organization was recognized as a negotiating partner around the world, said Gabriel.

The alternative, he added, would be working with the more radical Gaza-based Hamas, and that is "not a good alternative."

Last week, SPD General Secretary Andrea Nahles and a delegation of Fatah members published a joint paper about a "strategic dialogue" that mentioned "shared values" and "common goals."

Heavy criticism

In the 'Bild' newspaper Monday, Dieter Graumann, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, urged Gabriel and the SPD's designated chancellor candidate for next year's federal election, Peer Steinbrück, to "distance themselves" from the document.

Graumann said he hoped the SPD knew "what kind of organization they were dealing with here."

"The SPD is working together with a terrorist organization that calls for hatred and incitement against Jews," said Graumann. "The party should feel ashamed."

"The SPD is absolutely not capable of governing," he added.

Shared goals

Gabriel said his party had had contact with Fatah for many years, saying they shared the common goals of ending violence, the recognition of Israel and the wish to establish a Palestinian state. Fatah also had observer status among Europe's federated Social Democratic parties, he added.

dr/ipj (AFP, dpa)