Daily Israel Report

PA Agenda: Talks with Syrian Terrorists?and Israel

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) is to meet again with Sharon on coordinating the evacuation with Israel after conferring with Syrian and Lebanese terrorist leaders.
First Publish: 7/6/2005, 7:47 PM / Last Update: 7/6/2005, 10:03 PM

Abu Mazen arrived in Damascus Wednesday night to talk with exiled terrorists, including leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as well as Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

"Abu Mazen (Abbas) will inform Assad about recent developments in a wide scope of issues and discuss cooperation," according to a source quoted by Reuters news agency.

Although Hamas has rejected an invitation by Abu Mazen to join the PA cabinet after the scheduled Israeli civilian and military withdrawal, he will follow his meetings with terrorists by conferring with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on coordinating the planned evacuation of Jewish residents from Gaza in mid-August.

Abu Mazen, successor to Yasser Arafat, told the Arab al-Awsat newspaper that plans are moving ahead for a meeting with Sharon. Both of them met less than three weeks ago in a less then amicable atmosphere. Abu Mazen demanded that Israel withdrawal from cities while Sharon insisted the PA stop mortar and rocket attacks, which have continued daily on Jewish communities in Gaza and in the Negev, including Sderot.

The PA leader had hoped that including Hamas in the cabinet would defuse the terror organization's popularity in Gaza, where it is considered as a rival authority to the PA. Israel fears that Hamas, which is pledged to destroy Israel, will take over the 21 Jewish communities slated to be dismantled.

Despite previous demands from the government that the PA must stop terrorist attacks before further IDF withdrawals from major cities, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz met with PA minister Nasser Yousef Tuesday night to discuss transferring control of Kalkilya and Bethlehem to the PA.

A stumbling block to progress is the size of the area that the PA will control. Israel wants to transfer only the city of Bethlehem, but the PA wants to control the city and surrounding villages.