The Palestinian Authority has announced that it will participate in a security summit with Israel in Egypt on Sunday, notwithstanding calls by Hamas and other Palestinian factions to boycott the gathering.
On Saturday, PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General Hussein al-Sheikh announced that a Palestinian delegation will participate in the summit, which will take place in the Egyptian Red Sea resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh.
He said the decision to participate in the summit aims “to defend the rights of our Palestinian people to freedom and independence, and to demand an end to this continuous Israeli aggression against us and to stop all measures and policies that violate our blood, land, property and sanctities.”
Continued security summits
The summit, the second of its kind in recent weeks, is scheduled to be held under the auspices of the US, and with the participation of Egypt and Jordan.
In late February, a similar summit was held in the Jordanian port city of Aqaba, where the five parties agreed to convene again in Sharm El-Sheikh in March.
At the Aqaba summit, Israel and the PA agreed to commit to all previous agreements between them. They also committed to de-escalation on the ground and to prevent further violence.
“The participants agreed to continue meeting under this formula, maintain positive momentum and expand agreement towards wider political process leading to a just and lasting peace,” read a joint communique issued after the Aqaba summit.
Hamas and other Palestinian factions had also urged the PA to boycott the summit in Aqaba, but to no avail.
Similar calls surfaced after last week’s Israeli security forces’ raid in Jenin, where four Palestinians, including two Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad commanders, Yusef Shreim and Nidal Khazem, were killed.
Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, voiced strong opposition to the PA’s participation in the two summits in Aqaba and Sharm El-Sheikh.
Abu Marzouk, in an interview with the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Mayadeen news television channel, accused the PA of “conspiring against the Palestinian resistance and martyrs.”
“Our Palestinian people will reject this behavior,” Abu Marzouk said. “Our policy until now has been to avoid internecine fighting or internal differences. We call on them to backtrack from their project with the occupation.”
Abu Marzouk, who was speaking from Moscow, said the Palestinians have a “direct interest” in escalation with Israel. “We reject the Sharm El-Sheikh summit and other summits that seek to achieve calm,” he added.
In Moscow, Abu Marzouk and other Hamas officials held talks with Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Bogdanov and discussed with him the latest developments in the regional and international arenas, according to Palestinian sources.
The PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) also called on the PA to boycott the summit in Sharm El-Sheikh.
Senior PFLP official Mahmoud al-Ras said in a statement that the PA participation in Sunday’s summit would be a “free-of-charge service o the right-wing fascist Zionist government.”
The official warned that the PA’s actions would deepen divisions among the Palestinians and harm the national interests of the Palestinians.