Abbas envoy to meet Hamas leaders

Palestinian Authority chairman denies charges of financial manipulations.

By JPOST STAFF
September 25, 2006 00:12
3 minute read.
Abbas envoy to meet Hamas leaders

haniyeh and son 298.88. (photo credit: AP)

 
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Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's envoy, Rauhi Fatuh, is due to travel to Gaza on Tuesday for meetings with Hamas leaders in which he will present the conditions for renewing talks on a Palestinian Authority unity government, Israel Radio reported Tuesday morning. Palestinian media sources reported that Abbas did not deem the talks to be useful since the political faction of Hamas in Damascus "is the decision maker for Hamas in Gaza." However, Abbas is set to meet with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and other Hamas officials in Gaza at the end of the week. Earlier Monday, Abbas cancelled their original meeting, which was supposed to take place Tuesday. The PA chairman was to travel to the Gaza Strip on Monday but canceled the visit because of recent statements made by Hamas leaders, senior PA officials here told The Jerusalem Post. They said Abbas was especially angry at allegations made by Atef Udwan, a PA minister-without-portfolio, that Abbas was withholding the salaries of PA civil servants in an effort to extract political concessions from Hamas.

  • Quartet approves gov't with Hamas Udwan also said that Abbas's office was hiding about $1 billion of international donors' money. In response, Abbas's office issued a statement condemning the minister's remarks as "a cheap and desperate attempt to undermine the credibility of the Palestinian president." According to the statement, Abbas's office has received just $65 million over the past few weeks, from Qatar and Saudi Arabia. "This is a small sum that does not even cover half a month of the salaries for the civil servants," it said. Abbas's decision to call off the meeting with Haniyeh is seen as reflecting growing tensions between his Fatah party and Hamas over the proposed unity government. Sources close to Abbas told the Post that Hamas leaders were "deliberately" trying to foil the formation of such a government because they were not prepared to change their political agenda. "Hamas does not want to recognize Israel or the agreements that were signed between the PLO and Israel," said one official. "They are continuing to act against the interests of the Palestinian people." Abbas told an emergency meeting of the PLO executive committee in his office he had decided to suspend talks with Hamas over the formation of a government, said Bassam Salhi, secretary-general of the People's [Communist] Party, who attended the meeting. "There is a serious crisis surrounding the establishment of a national unity government because Hamas has changed its mind about the political program of the proposed government. I doubt if the president will ever go back to talk to Hamas." After the meeting, the committee released a statement holding Hamas responsible for the financial crisis in the PA. "Hamas's refusal to abide by the agreement to form a national unity government prompted Arab and European countries to halt financial aid to the Palestinians," the statement said. Accusing Hamas leaders of incitement against Abbas, the committee urged the Islamist organization to accept the conditions of the Quartet for resuming direct financial aid to the PA, namely renouncing terrorism, recognizing Israel and honoring all previous agreements with Israel. Maher Mikdad, a Fatah spokesman in the Gaza Strip, said Hamas was responsible for the failure of the unity talks. He said Haniyeh had come under heavy pressure from Hamas leaders to abandon the agreement he had reached with Haniyeh two weeks ago. "It's clear that Hamas is now divided," he said. "One trend in Hamas supports the establishment of a unity government, while the other is vehemently opposed." Ahmed Abdel Rahman, another top Fatah official who is closely associated with Abbas, said Hamas could not remain in power. "Hamas, with its current political program, can't continue to lead the Palestinians," he said. "It's time for the people to express their opinion on this matter." Hamas leaders, meanwhile, remained as defiant as ever, stressing that they would never join a government that recognized Israel or relinquished armed struggle against Israel. PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar (Hamas) said previous Fatah-led governments that recognized Israel's right to exist had not achieved anything for the Palestinians. "All the governments that recognized Israel since the signing of the Oslo Accords did not get anything in return," he said. "How can anyone ask Hamas to recognize Israel, which is occupying all of Palestine?" Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri lashed out at Abbas for demanding that his movement recognize Israel. "We will never accept the conditions of the Quartet," he said. "This government will not make any concessions to Abbas, and we won't recognize Israel." In light of the political stalemate, some Fatah officials have urged Abbas to dissolve the Hamas-led government and to call early elections. Hamas officials warned Monday that such a move would lead to civil war and called on Abbas and Fatah party to "stop inciting" against the Hamas-led government.


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