Abbas urges Olmert to resume talks

Report: PA chairman forming new party comprised of younger Fatah members.

abbas pondering 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
abbas pondering 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas spoke with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Friday and congratulated the new prime minister on the swearing-in of the new government. Abbas took the opportunity to urge Olmert to resume peace talks with the Palestinians. In the meantime, according to a report in the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Abbas intends to form a new political movement, whose members will be taken largely from the ranks of the younger Fatah members. The PA chairman is expected to invite such prominent Fatah members as former PA Parliament speaker Rouhi Fatouh, Mohammed Dahlan, and Jibril Rajoub to join his new party. The report also said that Abbas wanted to appoint Fatouh as his spokesman, a decision that could indicate that Fatouh is being groomed as a probable successor to Abbas. Tensions in the PA between Fatah and Hamas continue to mount as Abbas struggles to wield his authority over a government staggering under the weight of political chaos and bankruptcy. Following assassination threats by Hamas and al-Qaida against top Fatah officials, Fatah gunmen in the Gaza Strip announced the formation of a new security force to protect their leaders. Members of the 80-member force staged a march in Rafah on Wednesday as their leaders warned against attempts to harm Fatah officials. A spokesman for the new force said its members came from several branches of Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. "The No. 1 mission of this elite force is to protect Fatah members and leaders," he said.