Hamas, Fatah welcome Yemeni mediation efforts [Archives:2006/953/Front Page]

June 8 2006

SANA'A, June 7 ) The Palestinian leadership welcomed efforts initiated by Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to hold talks between Fatah and Hamas in Sana'a, according to the Palestinian ambassador in Sana'a.

Ambassador Khalid Sheikh said, “The Palestinian leadership welcomes the intervention; therefore, there is collective approval for the two groups to hold talks in Sana'a.”

He confirmed that a time to hold such talks has not been defined yet. The September 26 website mentioned that the arrival of a plenipotentiary from Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is expected in the coming days. “The plenipotentiary will convey the Palestinian National Authority leadership's view regarding the referendum,” the website reported.

According to Ambassador Sheikh, the Palestinian president is clinging to carrying out the referendum. “President Mahmoud Abbas insists that dialogue between the groups will continue until the last day,” he said.

On Tuesday, President Saleh offered to host talks between Fatah and Hamas, which are locked in a power struggle in the Palestinian territories. Hamas immediately welcomed the invitation. “We don't know if Fatah has accepted, but Hamas is ready to hold talks in Yemen at the highest level,” said Moussa Abu Marzouk, a member of Hamas's exiled leadership in Syria.

Relations between Hamas and Fatah worsened after Hamas won January's Palestinian elections and formed a government isolated by the West for its refusal to recognize the Jewish state and its rejection of peace deals with Israel which were accepted by Fatah when it was in power.

Hamas also opposes holding a referendum on a statehood manifesto implicitly recognizing Israel. In this regard, Abbas gave Hamas a few more days to accept a manifesto implicitly recognizing Israel or face a referendum on the issue. Hamas officials welcomed Abbas's offer to extend their dialogue but repeated their opposition to deadlines.

Abbas has asked the Hamas-led government to accept a proposal calling for a Palestinian state alongside Israel, thereby implicitly recognizing the Jewish state. He believes the plan will help lift economic pressure on Palestinians and allow him to pursue peace talks with Israel. Hamas has balked at the plan, demanding changes in the language and saying the group will not give in to deadlines.