Daily Israel Report

Abbas´s Two Track Plan: Talks with Olmert and Hamas

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Abbas has succeeded in getting money from Israel on condition it bypass Hamas while setting up a separate diplomatic channel for talks with the rival faction.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 12/27/2006, 9:38 AM / Last Update: 12/25/2006, 11:07 PM

Two days after Abbas met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and received promises of money and the removal of roadblocks designed to deter terrorists, the PA announced that the Fatah leader will visit Jordan along with Hamas leader and PA prime minister Ismail Haniyeh.

'The Jordanian prime minister has extended an official invitation from his majesty King Abdullah to Prime Minister Haniyeh to visit Jordan and to meet with President Abu Mazen (Abbas) to discuss the latest developments and the issues of difference," PA spokesman Ghazi Hamad said.

Haniyeh may visit Jordan as early as this week and it will be the first time that a Hamas leader has visited the kingdom since 1999, when it shut down the terrorist organization's offices and expelled its leaders.

Militias of Fatah and Hamas were engaged in several days of warfare last week until intervention by Islamic Jihad terrorists and Egyptian officials calmed the violence that left behind dozens of dead and wounded militia fighters and bystanders, including children.

Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to form a unity government, whose main goal was to remove Hamas as head of the government. The change would allow the United States to lift sanctions designed to prevent aid to the PA from reaching Hamas.

The Fatah leader then threatened to call elections, spawning the violence between the militias. The crisis allowed Abbas to convince the Bush administration to take steps to aid Abbas's Presidential Guard and to pressure Israel to help bolster his political position.

After he received the pledges from Israel, he flew to Jordan Monday, paving the way for a meeting with Jordan and Haniyeh, which will make Hamas look more respectable on the diplomatic front.

Israel and the United States have labeled Abbas a "moderate" although the only noticeable difference between his policies and that of Hamas is his willingness to recognize the State of Israel on condition that Jerusalem become the capital of a new Arab state. Like Hamas, he also has demanded the "right of return" for millions of Arabs living in other countries to move to Israel.