Germany offers support to PA's Fayyad

Arab League calls on gov't to recognize PA parliament with Hamas majority.

Steinmeier 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Steinmeier 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Germany's foreign minister spoke with newly appointed Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Saturday and assured him of the EU's support, an official said. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas dismantled a unity coalition between Hamas and his Fatah movement after Hamas took control of Gaza by force earlier this week. He fired the Hamas prime minister and replaced him with Fayyad, previously the finance minister. In a telephone conversation Saturday with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Fayyad "underlined that the emergency government would do everything to achieve quickly a calming of the situation," Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger said in a statement. Steinmeier "assured Fayyad of the EU's support" and suggested a meeting "as soon as conditions allow," Jaeger added. Germany holds the EU's rotating presidency until July 1, when Portugal takes over. Arab nations also threw their support behind the leadership of Abbas, but also called to recognize the PA parliament which has a Hamas majority. They urged an immediate halt to infighting so that the unity of Palestinian lands can be preserved. Arab League foreign ministers gathered for an emergency session Friday in Cairo on how to deal with the Palestinian split after Hamas gained full control of the Gaza Strip. "We are seeking a national unity in Palestine and we stand against the events that we have witnessed in the last days," said Arab League chief Amr Moussa, adding there must be an "immediate and full halt" to the violence. Moussa said that Arab nations want to "serve the Palestinian cause, and not one faction against another." The foreign ministers called on Hamas and Fatah to hold talks under the supervision of Egypt. They warned that failure of such talks would have extremely negative results. The ministers also called for the factions in Lebanon to go back to the negotiating table, Israel Radio reported. It was decided that a delegation would be sent to Beirut to advise on how to renew the national dialogue and to examine the murder and terrorist incidents, as well as weapons smuggling into Lebanon. Meanwhile, in a stark message to Hamas gunmen in control of Gaza, Egypt pulled its diplomatic mission out of the coastal strip, citing security reasons. Abbas moved quickly to cement his rule in the West Bank after losing Gaza in a swift five-day Hamas assault on his forces. The Arab League backed Abbas's decision, saying the "legitimacy of his leadership" must be respected. Jordan underlined its backing for Abbas's government. Roughly half of Jordan's 5.5 million population is Palestinian, and the kingdom fears instability on its own soil if the fighting spreads to the neighboring West Bank. The government rejects "any dissent or defiance to the legitimate authority" and stressed "the necessity to protect the Palestinian National Authority and its President Mahmoud Abbas," spokesman Nasser Judeh said in a statement carried by the official Petra news agency. Jordan's King Abdullah called Abbas to express sadness for the situation in Gaza and called for an immediate end to the infighting, Petra reported. Egypt has beefed up security on its border with Gaza to prevent any mass influx of Palestinians. Long term, it faces the possibility that the impoverished coastal strip of 1.4 million people - already awash in weapons - could become a breeding ground of militancy that could bleed over the porous border. Close to 100 Fatah officials crossed into Egypt from Gaza Strip in the early hours Friday, fleeing the Hamas takeover, Egyptian police said. Egypt's state MENA news agency quoted Saudi's foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal as asking the Arab League in dismay whether Palestinians had forgotten a commitment made in Mecca earlier this year to "unite and never to fight."