For the second time in less than a year, leaders of two major Arab nations are working hard to bring the Fatah and Hamas terrorist factions together in a new unity Palestinian Authority unity government.
Officials in Saudi Arabia and Egypt are again attempting to convince leaders of both PA factions to reconcile their differences, according to a report published Sunday in Haaretz.
Hamas politburo chief and arch-terrorist Khaled Mashaal recently traveled to Saudi Arabia to discuss the breakdown in talks between his faction and that of PA chairman and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). Egyptian officials are doing their part by trying to arrange a meeting between Hamas and Fatah factions to be held later this month, according to senior PA sources in Judea and Samaria.
Various PA sources have said quietly for weeks that efforts were being made on both sides to reconcile differences between Fatah and Hamas to bring the two rival factions together again.
The last PA unity government, established in March after weeks of cajoling by Arab leaders that ended with outright arm-twisting by Saudi Arabian King Adbullah, lasted less than a day before loyalists of both factions were back at each other's throats.
That deal came after more than a year of internecine bloodshed that followed a landslide victory by the Islamist Hamas terrorist group, who ousted the ruling Fatah faction in PA elections January 2006. International leaders refused to recognize the Hamas-ruled government, and froze funding to the PA until Hamas would renounce terrorism, formally acknowledge the State of Israel's right to exist, and agree to uphold deals previously negotiated by rival factions within the PA.
Hamas has not fulfilled these conditions, and has staunchly remained true to its vow never to recognize Israel. Gaza descended into total anarchy, and was eventually taken over by Hamas. Fatah retained control of Judea and Samaria.
In response, Abbas declared an emergency PA government, ousting Hamas. Millions of dollars that were frozen when Hamas took over the PA suddenly flowed in from the USA, Israel and other Western nations. Millions more dollars, hundreds of thousands of new weapons and more than a year of training for PA security forces by senior American military officials have been provided by the Bush administration to prop up the Abbas government as well.
Abbas vowed, in return, to keep Hamas out of the government.
Hamas is now trying to establish its own relationship with the USA. Haniyeh advisor Ahmed Yousef has reportedly sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asking for talks. "We are not anti-American, anti-European or anti-anyone," claimed Yousef in his letter. "Our party is the legitimately elected party. You owe it to your sense of fairness to engage meaningfully with all relevant parties to the conflict."
Yousef said it was "amusing" that USA Secretary of State Rice had expressed sympathy for Israeli victims of Hamas bombings, arguing that Israel was to blame for the violence.