Abbas to ask Sudanese president to help soften Hamas on unity talks

Palestinian Authority President scheduled to arrive in Khartoum on Wednesday for talks with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Gaza hamas rally 248.88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
Gaza hamas rally 248.88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to arrive in Khartoum on Wednesday for talks with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. It will be Abbas's first meeting with Bashir since he was indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes last March. PA officials said the two leaders would discuss bilateral relations and the general situation in the Middle East. One official said that Abbas would ask the Sudanese president to use his influence with Hamas to persuade the movement to soften its position in talks aimed at ending the rift with Fatah. Sudan maintains strong relations with Hamas, whose leader, Khaled Mashaal, visited Khartoum last February. Some of the weapons shipments sent to Hamas are believed to pass through Sudanese territory. Meanwhile, Egyptian security officials visiting Ramallah met on Tuesday separately with Fatah and Hamas representatives as part of Cairo's efforts to persuade the two parties to resume unity talks. The Egyptian delegation is headed by Gen. Mohammed Ibrahim, a senior official with the General Intelligence Service. He and his team held talks with top Fatah operatives Ahmed Qurei, Abu Maher Ghnaim and Azzam al-Ahmed before meeting a number of Hamas legislators. The Hamas representatives who met with the Egyptians included Omar Abdel Razek, Mahmoud Rumahi Samirah Halaykeh and Abdel Rahman Zeidan. Azzam al-Ahmed said after the meeting that Fatah had a "real desire" to end the conflict with Hamas. He said that the Egyptians came with a number of new ideas about how to end the Hamas-Fatah power struggle and that his faction was now studying them. He did not elaborate. Ahmed added that the Egyptians were hoping to bring Hamas, Fatah and other Palestinian factions to a "national unity" conference in Cairo on August 25. Hamas, he said, is "part of the Palestinian fabric despite the mistakes it has committed." He said that divisions among the Palestinians have caused huge damage to their cause. A Fatah official told The Jerusalem Post that despite the renewed Egyptian efforts, there were no indications that Hamas had softened its position on the main disputed issues. He said that the gap between the two parties remains wide over the issue of the political platform of a Hamas-Fatah government, the status of the Palestinian security forces and the date and nature of the next presidential and parliamentary elections. One of the Hamas participants, Halaykeh, said that as far as his movement was concerned, there would be no progress toward unity unless Fatah released all Hamas-affiliated detainees from its jails in the West Bank. The Egyptian team is also expected to visit the Gaza Strip and Syria for further talks with leaders of Hamas and other groups.