Hamas rejects Sharm e-Sheikh summit

Calls for resistance; says US, Israel won't give Palestinians "anything."

abbas abdullah 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
abbas abdullah 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Deposed Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas on Sunday rejected a summit planned for Egypt with Israeli and Arab leaders, saying only "resistance" would produce results for his people. Speaking in Gaza, which his movement overran earlier this month, defeating the forces allied with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Haniyeh said, "the Americans won't give anything. Israel won't give us anything. Our land, our nation will not come back to us except with steadfastness and resistance," a code word for attacks against Israel. He called any hopes generated by the summit a "mirage" and "illusions." On Monday, Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert are to join the president of Egypt and king of Jordan for a summit meeting meant to boost Abbas in his battle with Hamas, Abbas fired the Hamas-led Cabinet after the Islamists took control of Gaza, replacing it with a Cabinet made up of moderates and experts. Commenting on Israel's decision to free up hundreds of millions of tax money it collected for the Palestinians but refused to hand over as long as Hamas was in power, Haniyeh said some of it must be directed to Gaza. "The money must stay away from political extortion and must reach all Palestinian people without discrimination or differentiation," he said. Haniyeh tried to draw attention away from the Fatah-Hamas conflict, saying repeatedly that the real problem facing the Palestinians is Israeli occupation. "Our battle is with the occupation that has been here for more than 60 years," he said. Underlining the Hamas rejection of the existence of Israel, Haniyeh addressed his remarks to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and the "1948 lands," a reference to Israel, created in that year. Earlier Sunday, Abbas said he received US and Israeli assurances that the Jewish state was ready to make progress at the upcoming summit, the official Jordanian news agency Petra reported. But in Jerusalem, Olmert played down expectations ahead of the summit, telling his Cabinet not to expect a "dramatic breakthrough" at the gathering, according to a meeting participant. Abbas was visiting Jordan's King Abdullah II ahead of Monday's meeting in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik, which will be attended by both leaders, as well as Olmert and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. When asked if Israel was ready to make any offers in Sharm, Abbas told Petra, "I received promises from American and Israeli sides." "What's more important is to implement these promises on the ground," he added, following a closed-door meeting with Jordan's king in Amman. Abbas said that he will ask Israel at Monday's meeting to release Palestinian prisoners, ease measures at crossing points and release US$550 million (€409.2 million) in Palestinian tax money that Israel has withheld since Hamas won Palestinian elections in January 2006. Israel's Cabinet said Sunday that some of the money can be released now that Abbas has expelled Hamas from the government. Monday's gathering is meant to boost the Palestinian chairman by showing he can move ahead with the peace process, despite the militant Hamas group's takeover of the Gaza Strip in a brutal rout of Abbas' Fatah movement earlier this month. The infighting has left the Palestinians with two governments _ Abbas' new government in the West Bank, and the Hamas rulers in Gaza. Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia have said the West Bank-based Cabinet formed by Abbas following Gaza's fall is the sole legitimate Palestinian government. Abbas castigated Hamas, saying he "will not talk to revolutionists." A royal palace statement quoted Jordan's ruler Sunday as telling Abbas that the summit must set the stage for renewed Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. "The summit must be seized as an opportunity to formulate a clear timeline for a return to negotiations," King Abdullah said. Abdullah threw his weight behind Abbas, saying the Palestinian leader "has Jordan's full support" and that the Palestinian Authority was the "legitimate representative of the Palestinian" people. The king said Hamas conquest of Gaza had "dealt a significant blow to Palestinian unity," according to the palace statement.