Haniyeh cuts short Middle East tour

No indication of link between change in plans and Olmert's trip to Egypt.

haniyeh bdyguards 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
haniyeh bdyguards 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas planned on Wednesday to cut short, for the second time, a tour of Arab nations and return to the Gaza Strip on Thursday, aides said. The last leg of the trip was supposed to have been Jordan, which had offered to host a meeting between Haniyeh and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah in an effort to defuse deadly tensions between their factions. Both Haniyeh and Abbas have agreed in principle to such a meeting, but no date was announced. The aides said Haniyeh decided to break off his trip after making an Islamic pilgrimage, or hajj, to Saudi Arabia, to attend to unspecified "work." They said he would resume the tour, but did not specify when. In addition to traveling to Jordan, Haniyeh was also to have visited Kuwait and Qatar. He broke off his original trip in mid-December following a deadly bout of Hamas-Fatah violence. His convoy came under fire at the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt as he returned. There was no immediate indication of a link between the change in Haniyeh's travel plans and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's scheduled trip to Egypt on Thursday to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Egypt has played a major role in mediating between Israel and the Palestinians, and has been trying to negotiate the release of captured IDF soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit.