Efforts to re-unite the major Palestinian political factions were set to continue this week in Egypt, as Cairo welcomed both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal. The Palestinian Ma’an News Agency reported that Meshaal and Abbas were expected to meet on Wednesday, while Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi was also set to meet with the two leaders.
Ma’an went on to report that the head of the Islamic Jihad, another Gaza-focused terror organization, also had plans to meet with Abbas. The efforts to reconcile the Palestinian factions come after years of unsuccessful efforts. Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah faction effectively split control of the Palestinians when Hamas kicked Fatah out of Gaza in bloody coup in 2007.
While Abbas is generally seen by the US as a potential peace partner with Israel—despite his refusal to negotiate over the last two-plus years—Hamas is seen as intransigent since they refuse to eschew violence or recognize Israel.
Meshaal recently gave speeches in Gaza where he claimed all of Israel as Palestinian territory and promoted violence as the best means towards getting what the Palestinians want.
Meanwhile, the US State Department announced on Wednesday that US Envoy David Hale is meeting with Abbas and Mursi this week and has plans to meet with Quartet representatives on Thursday in Jordan. The Quartet—the US, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia—have long pushed for Israel-Palestinian peace talks to resume.
Spokesperson Victoria Nuland was quoted by the State Department website as saying that Hale and Abbas discussed a “broad range of regional and bilateral issues, including measures necessary to create a positive atmosphere conducive to future negotiations” with Israel.
The US has expressed concern at the Palestinians recent upgrade in status at the United Nations and threats to take Israel before the International Criminal Court as unnecessary provocations to the peace process.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastudpate.com, January 9, 2013)