Abbas rules out talks with Hamas

PA president in Egypt: They must cede control of Gaza; Hamas: Abbas wants to foil any agreement.

abbas mubarak old geezers 224 (photo credit: AP)
abbas mubarak old geezers 224
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ruled out talks with Hamas Wednesday unless it meets conditions including previous Gaza border arrangements. Abbas was in Egypt meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak over the crisis on Egypt's border where Hamas gunmen had blown holes in the frontier unleashing a flood of Palestinians into Egyptian Rafah. "There will be no talks with Hamas unless they comply with the conditions we have put forward to back off their coup, to recognize international legitimacy and to accept new early elections," he said after the meeting. Egyptian officials have been pressing Abbas to compromise with Hamas. Hamas officials were also in Cairo Wednesday to meet with senior Egyptian officials, including the influential head of Egypt's intelligence service, Omar Suleiman, to press their case for a role in any future border agreement. Abbas, however, has refused any talks with Hamas unless it relinquishes their control of Gaza to the PA. "We will not accept any new pre-conditions; they have to go back to the old (border) agreement. We are more interested in the Palestinian people's interests than Hamas is. If Hamas is really for them as well, let them comply with this," Abbas said. "We will not accept this mess - the old agreement should be implemented as it is." In 2005, the various parties negotiated an agreement with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to oversee the Gaza border under joint Palestinian, Israeli and EU supervision. Hamas immediately condemned Abbas's remarks, saying they were an attempt to prevent the current round of talks from reaching a solution to the border crisis. "The remarks made by Abbas today in Cairo show his plan to foil any agreement and any progress during the Cairo meetings between the Egyptians on the one hand, and Fatah and Hamas on the other," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum in Gaza. Meanwhile, Hamas leaders on Wednesday crossed into Egypt through the official Rafah terminal. "The Palestinians demand ... to open this gate freely for the people for normal relations and put an end to the grievous suffering," said Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar, who led the delegation to Egypt. "We are here to express the degree of pressure inflicted on the Palestinians for many, many years." "Egypt is our gate to the Arab, Islamic and entire world," Zahar told al-Jazeera television. "Therefore we will not allow the crossing to be used as a tool to suffocate the Palestinian people again." "Dialogue is the only way for this situation to end," Mubarak said in an interview with the Italian daily La Repubblica, carried Wednesday by the official news agency. "Egypt is waiting for the appropriate environment or climate to achieve that." The breach has sparked a crisis in Egyptian-Palestinian relations as Egypt struggles to regain control of the border. On Wednesday, Egyptian security forces had sealed all but one of the large gaps blown in the border wall, witnesses said. Movement across the border slowed to a trickle of several hundred Palestinians, both because of Egypt's efforts to close the wall and because of strong, cold winds, witnesses said. Egypt has struggled to deal with the influx, alternately trying to stop the Palestinians and then allowing them in, before settling into a pattern of controlling the border crossings together with Hamas security men and restricting visitors to the Rafah border town.