Abbas EU 224.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian Authority President denied reports on Saturday that he had agreed to begin talks with Hamas following the US-sponsored Middle East summit scheduled to take place in Annapolis in November.
In the report published by the London-based Al Hayat newspaper on Saturday, a Hamas source revealed that Abbas had agreed to hold talks with Hamas in Egypt following the summit.
According to the source, "Many Arab countries tried convincing Abu Mazen [Abbas] to hold talks between [Fatah and Hamas], but every time he requested a postponement. Recently, during a meeting with Sudanese President Omar al-Basheer, Abu Mazen agreed to begin the talks after Basheer discussed with him the importance of a dialogue."
The source went on to say that following Abbas's compliance with Basheer's request, the Khartoum government rushed to ask the Egyptians to host the event, because Sudan deems Egypt to be the most capable country to manage the Palestinian issue.
Furthermore, according to the report, representatives from Hamas and Fatah have recently held secret talks in order to "feel out a pulse" for further dialogue. "A few meetings were held between influential people in Hamas and Fatah," said the Hamas source, "but were informal in nature.
"Both sides are trying to clarify the expectations of the other, but the talks are held in secret because making them public could complicate the situation," the Hamas source went on to say, adding that the talks in Egypt would focus on fundamental differences between the sides. Among the issues the sides are currently divided on include the control and structure of Palestinian security services.
But according to MK Ephraim Sneh (Labor), who met with Abbas and PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad in Ramallah on Saturday, the PA president denied the Al Hayat report, and said that he refused to talk with Hamas.
Abbas has previously stated that he would only talk to Hamas if it stepped down from power in the Gaza Strip. During a trip by Abbas to Saudi Arabia in September a PA official told The Jerusalem Post that "President Abbas will stress...his keenness on resuming dialogue with Hamas only after Hamas reverses the situation in the Gaza Strip and apologizes for its military coup."
Israel has repeatedly stated that a precondition for holding talks with Abbas is that he cuts all ties with Hamas.