Just days after promising US lawmakers that his Fatah movement would not reconcile with Hamas, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is inviting the Islamist movement to kiss and make up.
Abbas called on Hamas to “return to national unity” following his meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso Wednesday. "The split that happened as a result of Hamas's coup is temporary and will be removed," Abbas said. Hamas welcomed Abbas’s statements and invited him to negotiations in Gaza.
Hamas and Fatah briefly formed a unity government after hammering out a power-sharing deal in Mecca that they hoped would renew international aid to the Palestinian Authority. Western aid had been cut off since Hamas won PA elections in a landslide, though the PA as a while received more money than ever before with the help of Muslim donor countries.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office issued a warning Wednesday night that a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation would result in the breakdown of the nascent “diplomatic process” that is being hastily constructed by Abbas and Olmert.
Arabic-language papers repeatedly report that secret talks between Hamas and Fatah are ongoing.
More Fatah Good-Will Gestures to Hamas
Fatah released nine Hamas terrorists in Bethlehem. The men had been arrested last months for organizing terror cells in Judea and Samaria.
Hamas hailed the move as another in a series of goodwill gestures, most notably the payment of a year’s salary to thousands of Hamas men in Gaza by Fatah using money transferred by Israel. The transfer took place just a day after Fatah Prime Minister Salam Fayyad promised Republican Congressmen that there would be no reconciliation with Hamas. Democratic Congressmen visiting Israel this week say they believe Fayyad’s claim that the transfer happened by accident, due to a “clerical error.”
Senior Palestinian Authority official Youssef Al-Zumour was arrested last week, however for allowing PA finances to be used in paying the salaries of 3,500 Hamas terrorists. Yediot Acharonot quoted PA sources admitting that Al-Zumour paid the salaries on purpose.