Ismail Haniyeh 311.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has decided not to attend the Non- Aligned
Movement conference in Tehran this week, a spokesman for the Hamas government
announced on Sunday.
The decision ends a dispute that erupted between the
Palestinian Authority and Hamas in recent days over who should represent the
Palestinians at the conference.
The announcement came in wake of PA
President Mahmoud Abbas’s threat to boycott the conference if Haniyeh
Last weekend, Hamas said that Haniyeh had received an
invitation from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to attend the
Hamas’s announcement drew sharp criticism from the PA
leadership in the West Bank, whose leaders accused Iran of seeking to “solidify”
Palestinian divisions by recognizing Haniyeh as the legitimate prime minister of
On Saturday, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad urged
Haniyeh to reject the Iranian invitation. The PA also announced that Abbas would
boycott the Non-Aligned Movement parley if Haniyeh or any other Hamas official
Taher a-Nunu, spokesman for the Hamas government, said that
Haniyeh apologized for not being able to accept the invitation to “avoid
deepening Palestinian, Arab and Islamic divisions over the Palestinian
Hamas officials said they did not want Haniyeh’s participation in
the conference to create the impression that the Gaza Strip is a separate and
independent Palestinian entity.
Yusef Rizka, a political advisor to
Haniyeh, insisted that the prime minister of the Hamas government did receive an
official invitation to attend the conference. Earlier, the PA Foreign Ministry
said that contrary to his claims, Haniyeh did not receive an official
PA Foreign Minister Riad Maliki is scheduled to travel to
Tehran Monday to prepare for the arrival of Abbas. Maliki said that if he
discovers that Haniyeh or any other Palestinian who is not part of the official
PA delegation is in Tehran, he would recommend that Abbas stay away.