Abbas to shun Arab League Cairo meet

PA "extremely disappointed" with Arab countries over refusal to hold Hamas responsible failed talks.

abbas mubarak pals 224.88 ap (photo credit: )
abbas mubarak pals 224.88 ap
(photo credit: )
The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah is "extremely disappointed" with the Arab countries over their refusal to hold Hamas responsible for the failure of Egyptian efforts to end the Islamic movement's dispute with Fatah, PA officials said Wednesday. The officials said that PA President Mahmoud Abbas had decided to boycott the upcoming meeting of the Arab League Foreign Ministers in Cairo in protest against the Arab countries' position. Abbas was hoping that the Arab League would put pressure on Hamas to participate in an Egyptian-sponsored conference that was due to be held in Cairo last week to settle the Hamas-Fatah power struggle. Abbas aides said that Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa had promised to publicly condemn Hamas for boycotting the gathering, but failed to keep his pledge. "The president has decided to boycott the meeting of the Arab foreign ministers because Amr Moussa did not keep his promise," said Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah official closely associated with Abbas. "For some reason, Moussa has been reluctant to openly blame Hamas for the fact that the Cairo conference never took place," he said. The Fatah official said that Mouusa's failure to censure Hamas was a "negative sign." He added that the Arab League Foreign Ministers should not hesitate to announce their position regarding the Hamas-Fatah crisis. "Even if they think that Fatah is partially responsible for the collapse of the Egyptian mediation efforts, they should go public," he added. Another top PA official told The Jerusalem Post that Abbas was also angry with the Arab League because some of its members have been exerting pressure on Moussa to invite Hamas to the meeting. "Instead of blaming Hamas for the crisis and the continued anarchy and lawlessness, some Arab countries are dealing with Hamas as if it was the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinians," he said. "Despite the decision to boycott the meeting, the Palestinian Authority has decided to send a low-level delegation headed by [PA negotiators] to Cairo to brief the Arab ministers on the power struggle with Hamas and the peace talks with Israel." Abbas's decision to stay away from the Arab League meeting came amid reports suggesting that Egypt had decided to resume its mediation efforts between the two Palestinian parties. Sources close to Abbas said that the Egyptians were considering summoning representatives of all the Palestinian factions to Cairo later this month for talks aimed at paving the way for holding a "national reconciliation" conference in Cairo. The sources said that the Egyptians have asked Saudi Arabia, Syria and other Arab countries to use their good offices with Fatah and Hamas to force them to end their differences. The Egyptians have also asked Abbas to consider the possibility of releasing hundreds of Hamas supporters who were arrested by his security forces in the West Bank in the past few weeks, the sources added. Hamas used the massive arrest campaign as an excuse to boycott the Cairo conference earlier this month.