26_September [Archives:2008/1142/Press Review]

March 31 2008

Saturday, March 29
Top Stories

– Vice President: Saleh excused himself from attending Damascus Summit for emergency circumstances

– Successful conclusion for functions of Yemen's Cultural Days in Jeddah

– Shabwa local source denies authenticity of Sahwa.net reports with regard to tribal fighting casualties

– Government call on religious scholars to condemn any western behaviors disgracing Prophet Mohammed

– Hamas urges Arabs to back Yemen-brokered reconciliation agreement

The website reported that Hamas wants this weekend's Arab summit to back a Yemen-sponsored reconciliation agreement between the group and its Palestinian rival Fatah, adding that Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, in exile in Syria, was also quoted as urging Arab leaders at their Damascus summit to support its fight with Israel. But he reiterated the Islamist group was open to a conditional truce with the Jewish state.

A Gaza-based Web site said Meshaal wrote to Arab leaders requesting support for Hamas-Fatah dialogue, after a Yemen-brokered agreement to revive talks between the rival factions appeared to falter this week. Meshaal called on Arab leaders to “shoulder your national and brotherly responsibility to foster a Palestinian-Palestinian dialogue,” according to the report, which was also carried by London-based pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat.

Hamas seized control of Gaza last June after routing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah forces. Abbas then sacked a Hamas-led unity government and pursued U.S.-backed peace talks with Israel. After months of hostilities, the factions agreed this week to restart direct talks to “return the Palestinian situation to what it was before the Gaza incidents.” But an apparent dispute quickly broke out.

Hamas has said talks will start on April 5, while Abbas's office insisted the Islamist group must first relinquish control of the Gaza Strip ) a condition Hamas has rejected. According to the Web site, Meshaal also urged Arab leaders to support the group's fight against Israel and to protest against an Israeli-led blockade of Gaza, defending militant cross-border rocket attacks from Gaza as self defense.

Hamas has said any ceasefire would depend on an end to Israeli acts of “aggression” in Gaza and the West Bank and the reopening of Gaza border crossings. Egypt, with U.S. blessing, has been trying to broker a cessation of hostilities between Israel and militants in Gaza.