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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Egypt trying to force Fatah acceptance of Hamas, Abbas refuses

At the prompting of Saudi Arabia, Egypt has been consistent in urging Fatah to accept Hamas hegemony in a unity government, undermining the American initiated peace talks and the government of Abbas. Abbas has so far been steadfast, but it won't be easy to remain so for long.
 Last update - 15:51 26/01/2008       
Abbas: No talks with Hamas despite Gaza border chaos
By News Agencies
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday stuck to his tough conditions for resuming contacts with Hamas, despite attempts by Egypt to bring the rivals together to solve the growing chaos on the Gaza-Egypt border.
In a speech Saturday, Abbas denounced the Hamas takeover of Gaza as a crime and said the Islamic militants must reverse these steps if they want to resume talks with him.
On Friday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had proposed in a newspaper interview that representatives of Hamas and Abbas' Fatah movement come to Cairo for talks. Abbas made no mention of that offer, and instead reiterated his plan to have his forces deploy on the Gaza crossings, instead of Hamas.
Mubarak's offer came as Egypt was enduring an influx of hundreds of thousands of Gazans through its border with Gaza Strip since Wednesday, when Hamas militants blew up segments of the border wall separating the area from Egypt.
Hamas on Friday accepted Mubarak's offer to host talks, while Abbas' representative in Egypt, Nabil Shaath, told reporters that Fatah has made no decision on the invitation.
Hamas hardliner Sami Abu Zuhri accused Abbas of trying to bypass Hamas. "His statements are a rejection of the Egyptian initiative," Abu Zuhri said of Abbas.
Abbas' position was clear, Shaath said. "Fatah was always ready for dialogue, but what was important was the result of such talks. And a result cannot be achieved unless Hamas announces its readiness to let go of military control of Gaza," he added.
Shaath also said Abbas will head to Egypt after meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday and would talk more here about Mubarak's offer.
Mubarak's offer was made in an apparent effort to raise his country's role as Mideast peace broker and ease the pressure following an influx of Palestinians into Egypt from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
In an interview for Saturday's edition of the Egyptian weekly al-Osboa, Mubarak said he wants peace between the Palestinians.
"I want this language of violence to stop," Mubarak was quoted as saying by the state MENA news agency. "Peace could be achieved on the basis of international resolutions and agreements that demand the establishment of Palestinian state."
Damascus-based Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal said Friday "I and all the brothers in the Hamas leadership welcome participating and will seek to make the dialogue a success."
Hamas and Fatah broke ranks after fighters loyal to Hamas forcibly seized control of the Gaza Strip from Abbas' ruling Fatah faction last June. The clashes between the two shattered a Saudi-sponsored Mecca deal brokered last February.
Egypt has failed to stem the flow of Gazans into its territory, or manage the chaotic border situation, despite deploying reinforcement. Egypt has long feared the instability in the Hamas-controlled Gaza could spill over into Egypt, and has been distancing itself from Hamas. The last time Hamas and Fatah met for talks in Cairo was in Feb. 2005.
Earlier this month, Hamas Premier Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza called for talks with Egypt and Fatah, to work out a new shared arrangement for Gaza's border crossings. At the time, Haniyeh suggested Hamas would be prepared to cede some control to the Abbas government in the West Bank.
In Syria Friday, radical Palestinian factions called on the two rival Palestinian groups to begin dialogue and end their power struggle. A statement at the end of the three-day National Palestinian Conference of factions opposed to peace with Israel stressed the need for Palestinians to unite in the face of the worsening Gaza situation, which they ascribed to Israel's siege.
Dialogue is the only way to solve inter-Palestinian differences, the groups said.

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