(photo credit: Associated Press)
Hamas has rejected
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s offer to dispatch a
Fatah delegation to the Gaza Strip to discuss ways of ending the power
struggle between the two parties, Fatah officials in Ramallah said over
the weekend.Ahmed, who has
by Abbas with trying to reach out to Hamas, said that representatives
of the movement informed him last week of their opposition to Abbas’s
initiative to dispatch a delegation to the Gaza Strip to hold talks on
ways of ending the crisis.
Hamas’s refusal to receive the delegation comes as
the two sides face growing pressure from several Arab and Islamic
countries to patch up their differences so as to pave the way for the
lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
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The pressure on Hamas
and Fatah intensified following the flotilla aid ship incident about two
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa is scheduled
to visit the Gaza Strip this week for the first time ever to discuss
prospects of ending the Fatah-Hamas crisis. Several Arab diplomats from
the Arab League arrived in the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border
crossing over the weekend to prepare for Moussa’s visit.
al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah official closely associated with Abbas, said
that, contrary to reports in the Arab media, the PA president had no
plans to visit the Gaza Strip in the near future.
Ahmed said that
such a visit would only consolidate the split between the West Bank and
Gaza Strip. “Such a visit would be a crime because it would deepen the
division between Gaza Strip and West Bank,” he said. “The president
should go to the Gaza Strip only to have it handed back to his authority
and to see the [Hamas] coup end.”
Delegation was to include PLO, Fatah members
The PA leadership decided to send representatives to the Gaza Strip
immediately after the flotilla incident. The delegation was supposed to
include senior members of the PLO and Fatah, in addition to Palestinian
businessman Munib al-Masri, who has been acting as a mediator between
the two sides for more than a year.
Last week Abbas met in Jordan with Jamal al-Khudari, an independent
legislator from the Gaza Strip, who is also acting as a mediator
between Hamas and Fatah. According to various sources, Abbas asked the
legislator to relay a message to Hamas leaders to the effect that Fatah
was keen on ending the rift and would even be willing to make
concessions to achieve that goal.
The sources revealed that Khudari was trying to persuade the two
parties to agree to a plan to open Gaza City’s sea port and place it
under the supervision of a European party.
According to the plan, goods would be directed to a port in Greece,
where they would be checked before being escorted to the Gaza Strip by
European monitors. The plan also allows European monitors to check the
cargos at the Greek port.