Hamas nixes Abbas' reconciliation talks

Arab League rep. to visit Gaza, discuss ending the Fatah-Hamas crisis.

Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit: Associated Press)
Mahmoud Abbas
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Hamas has rejected Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s offer to dispatch a Fatah delegation to the Gaza Strip to discuss ways of ending the power struggle between the two parties, Fatah officials in Ramallah said over the weekend.
Hamas’s refusal to receive the delegation comes as the two sides face growing pressure from several Arab and Islamic countries to patch up their differences so as to pave the way for the lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
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The pressure on Hamas and Fatah intensified following the flotilla aid ship incident about two weeks ago.
Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa is scheduled to visit the Gaza Strip this week for the first time ever to discuss prospects of ending the Fatah-Hamas crisis. Several Arab diplomats from the Arab League arrived in the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing over the weekend to prepare for Moussa’s visit.
Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah official closely associated with Abbas, said that, contrary to reports in the Arab media, the PA president had no plans to visit the Gaza Strip in the near future.
Ahmed said that such a visit would only consolidate the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. “Such a visit would be a crime because it would deepen the division between Gaza Strip and West Bank,” he said. “The president should go to the Gaza Strip only to have it handed back to his authority and to see the [Hamas] coup end.”
Ahmed, who has been entrusted by Abbas with trying to reach out to Hamas, said that representatives of the movement informed him last week of their opposition to Abbas’s initiative to dispatch a delegation to the Gaza Strip to hold talks on ways of ending the crisis.
Delegation was to include PLO, Fatah members
The PA leadership decided to send representatives to the Gaza Stripimmediately after the flotilla incident. The delegation was supposed toinclude senior members of the PLO and Fatah, in addition to Palestinianbusinessman Munib al-Masri, who has been acting as a mediator betweenthe two sides for more than a year.
Last week Abbas met in Jordan with Jamal al-Khudari, an independentlegislator from the Gaza Strip, who is also acting as a mediatorbetween Hamas and Fatah. According to various sources, Abbas asked thelegislator to relay a message to Hamas leaders to the effect that Fatahwas keen on ending the rift and would even be willing to makeconcessions to achieve that goal.
The sources revealed that Khudari was trying to persuade the twoparties to agree to a plan to open Gaza City’s sea port and place itunder the supervision of a European party.
According to the plan, goods would be directed to a port in Greece,where they would be checked before being escorted to the Gaza Strip byEuropean monitors. The plan also allows European monitors to check thecargos at the Greek port.