Olmert Abbas 224.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
The head of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, proposed Monday that he meet with his political rival, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, in Saudi Arabia, Haniyeh's office said.
Since Hamas's forcible takeover of Gaza in June, Abbas has rebuffed repeated offers by the Islamic militants to resume contacts. Abbas has said Hamas must first apologize and withdraw its forces from Palestinian security posts in Gaza.
Haniyeh, who was deposed as prime minister by Abbas in June, proposed the meeting in a phone call with Saudi Crown Prince Sultan Ibn Abdel Aziz, Haniyeh's office said.
Abbas is in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, where he will meet with the Saudi king to discuss a range of issues, including the ongoing Hamas-Fatah crisis and ways of avoiding a further deterioration in the relations of the two parties.
"President Abbas will stress during the meeting his keenness on resuming dialogue with Hamas only after Hamas reverses the situation in the Gaza Strip and apologizes for its military coup," one official said.
King Abdullah canceled a planned meeting with Abbas in Jordan several weeks ago in protest against the collapse of the Mecca agreement between Hamas and Fatah. The short-lived deal was reached earlier this year under the auspices of the Saudi royal family.
The Saudis are said to be angry with both Hamas and Fatah for failing to abide by the terms of the Mecca agreement, which called for the establishment of a Palestinian unity government and an end to internecine fighting in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
On Sunday, a Fatah official blamed Hamas of committing "war crimes against the Palestinian people" and promised that "in time, those responsible will be held accountable for their actions."
Hamas's proposal late Monday evening comes on the heels of another meeting between Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, during which the two said they would set up teams to discuss core issues.
A poll published earlier Monday revealed that 73 percent of Palestinians were disappointed with Hamas since its takeover of Gaza, and if Palestinian elections were held today Abbas would win by a landslide.