Syria: Peace impossible with PA split

Country's VP says negotiations with Israel unlikely during Hamas-Fatah rift.

Assad 88 (photo credit: )
Assad 88
(photo credit: )
Syria warned Thursday that peace between Israel and the Palestinians would be impossible within the current split between Fatah and Hamas. "Fatah, even if it is supported by the international community, cannot marginalize Hamas... The accusations between the two sides must stop," Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa said. His comments to Syrian journalists at a briefing in Damascus came as Egypt announced Thursday its call for a peace summit of Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian leaders next week that aims to boost Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas against Hamas after its takeover of Gaza. The regional gathering to be held Monday in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik will be the biggest show of support yet by Arab states for Abbas' Fatah party in his bitter showdown with the Islamic militants, who seized control of Gaza last week. In the wake of the Gaza takeover, Abbas dissolved the national unity government with Hamas and set up an emergency cabinet of Fatah members. Abbas aide Saeb Erekat said the Palestinian president would call for a resumption of peace talks with Israel, arguing that only progress toward Palestinian statehood can serve as a true buffer against Hamas. But Syria's al-Sharaa, whose country hosts exiled Hamas leaders, said Syria encouraged dialogue between Fatah and Hamas. "It is vital even if it does not lead to direct results, but dialogue must start again," he said. "No faction can cancel out the other," he added. The vice president's comments came only several hours after Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem told the London-based Al Hayat newspaper that his country is "more than ready" to resume talks with Israel earlier Thursday. "Were Israel to decide to resume negotiations it would find a ready partner," Moallem said. The Syrian officials' comments are the latest in a flurry of statements made by both Israeli and Syrian officials expressing a tentative willingness to resume peace negotiations. On June 9 Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz confirmed that the government had sent messages to Syria over the possibility of renewing peace talks, but did not reveal any details of the communications. Mofaz said that in light of current tensions between Israel and Syria, and considering that Damascus had made overtures toward peace, he deemed it appropriate that there was a 'secret channel' for talks. It was for this reason, Mofaz said, that Israel had approached Syria. Officials at the Prime Minister's Office have yet to confirm the existence of a clandestine negotiation track between Israel and Syria. Mark Weiss contributed to this report