Yemen-brokered PA faction talks fail

Palestinian Authority ambassador: Hamas preconditions prevented settlement deal with Fatah.

Abbas Haniyeh deal 298.8 (photo credit: AP [file])
Abbas Haniyeh deal 298.8
(photo credit: AP [file])
An attempt by the Yemeni government to mend fences between Fatah and Hamas failed Thursday after the Fatah delegation walked out of the talks. Earlier this week, representatives of Fatah and Hamas were invited to Sana for talks on an initiative by Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to end the ongoing power struggle between the two parties. The initiative urges Hamas to end its control of the Gaza Strip and hand the area back to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah. It also calls for holding early elections in the PA-controlled areas and the establishment of another "unity" government. Prior to the talks, Fatah announced that it had accepted the initiative, while Hamas expressed reservations. The Fatah delegation is headed by Azzam al-Ahmed, head of the Fatah parliamentary bloc and a senior Fatah official. The Hamas team is headed by Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy chairman of Hamas's political bureau. Abbas's spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, held Hamas responsible for the collapse of the talks. He said Hamas refused to sign a draft agreement that was proposed by the Yemeni president. PA officials in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that Abbas had instructed the Fatah delegation to return to the West Bank following the failure of the reconciliation talks. They said the talks failed after Hamas refused to cede control over the Gaza Strip unconditionally. "Hamas is responsible for the failure of the Yemeni initiative," said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior PLO official and close adviser to Abbas. "Our delegation will be heading home tomorrow. We will return to Yemen once Hamas accepts the initiative." Hamas, for its part, accused Fatah of "sabotaging" the talks by pulling its delegation out. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the two sides were close to reaching an agreement and that they were supposed to meet again over the weekend to put the final touches on the accord. "Today we were surprised to hear that Fatah was withdrawing from the talks under the pretext that Hamas had rejected the [Yemeni] initiative," he said. "This is completely untrue as Hamas was the first party to welcome the plan. If anyone is responsible for the failure of the dialogue, it's Mahmoud Abbas, who does not want reconciliation with Hamas."