Hamas slams exclusion from Arab talks

Arab league meeting to discuss Hamas-Fatah crisis; Hamas PM says armed Gaza factions will keep truce.

Dog approaches kassam 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Dog approaches kassam 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh slammed Egypt and the Arab League on Friday night, for failing to invite Hamas to a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo next week. The conference will discuss ongoing rivalry between Hamas and Fatah. Haniyeh told press in the Gaza Strip that foreign ministers of the Arab world need to hear Hamas's position in order to solve disputes between Palestinian factions. Earlier in the day however, he denied tension with Egypt following the collapse of Egyptian-mediated talks between his group and Fatah. "In day-to-day relations there may be differences, this is true, but it does not mean that there is a strategic tension with our brothers in Egypt," Haniyeh had said. Haniyeh also declared that armed Palestinians factions are committed to the Gaza truce, just hours after terrorists fired a Kassam rocket and two mortar shells at southern Israel. "I have met with armed factions over the past two days and they stated their position clearly: they are committed to calm as long as (Israel) abides by it," Haniyeh said at the end of Friday prayers in Gaza. The Kassam rocket fired Friday morning hit an industrial zone south of Ashkelon, while the mortar shells landed near an IDF patrol north of the Kissufim crossing. No one was wounded in either attack. The armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) claimed responsibility for the mortar shells. The latest attacks from Gaza came a day after Jordanian sources told The Jerusalem Post that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak had assured Jordan's King Abdullah this week that Israel did not intend to launch a major offensive to bring down the Hamas regime in the territory in the near future. On Thursday night, Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided that Gaza cargo crossings would remain shut Friday after a Kassam hit an open area in the Sha'ar Hanegev region. Nevertheless, defense officials said earlier this week that according to an official IDF assessment submitted to Barak, the restriction was not having an effect on Hamas. Also Friday, some two hundred of parents and children demonstrated outside the home of Public Security Minister Avi Dichter in the city, calling on the governing to act more firmly to stop the ongoing rocket attacks. They held a similar demonstration at the entrance to the city on Thursday night. Yaakov Katz and Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report