PFLP urges Fatah to talk with Hamas

Group says Annapolis meeting aimed at fueling internal Palestinian turmoil and ending resistance.

ziyad nakhaleh 224 88 (photo credit: )
ziyad nakhaleh 224 88
(photo credit: )
A senior official of a radical Palestinian faction called on Fatah on Friday to begin a dialogue with Hamas to overcome their political differences. The two main Palestinian groups have been locked in a standoff ever since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip by force in June, leaving Fatah to rule over the West Bank. "We call on our brothers in Fatah to embark on a national dialogue to close ranks," Maher Taher, the representative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Damascus, said during a speech marking the 40th anniversary of the group's formation. "The matter doesn't deserve all this conflict over a partitioned authority that is shackled with all kinds of Zionist conditions," Taher added. Hamas has called for negotiations with Fatah, but Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has refused, saying he will begin talks only after the rival group relinquishes control of Gaza. Hamas and other radical Palestinian groups, like PFLP, have criticized Abbas for holding talks with the Israelis, especially after he participated in a US-sponsored Middle East peace conference last month in Annapolis, Maryland. The meeting relaunched Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and was attended by most Arab nations, including leading players Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Hamas was not invited to the gathering. Taher said the Annapolis meeting was aimed at fueling internal Palestinian turmoil and ending their resistance. "We adhere fast to our weapons ... all calls to end resistance would be doomed to failure, he said. The rally where Taher spoke was held at the al-Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus and was attended by some 800 people in a giant tent decorated with Palestinian flags and banners. "The unity of the Palestinians is the only guarantee for the supreme national rights of the Palestinian people," read one banner. "The Annapolis meeting is a step for division, liquidation and normalization (of relations with Israel)," said another. The gathering was attended by representatives from several other Damascus-based radical Palestinian factions. Ziyad Nakhaleh, the assistant secretary general of the Islamic Jihad Movement, also urged Palestinian factions to close ranks and to "go out of the current crisis."