Abbas and Haniyeh in Mecca for Talks; Civil War May Follow

Leaders of the Fatah and Hamas factions in the Palestinian Authority are in Mecca for talks they hope will lead to a unity government and end months of violent clashes in Gaza.

Hana Levi Julian , | updated: 9:15 AM

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Mecca Tuesday for discussions which began in the evening.

It is expected that the meeting, cordially but pointedly ordered by Saudia Arabian King Abdullah, will last all day, if not longer.

The talks are taking place at Abdullah’s royal guest palace overlooking Islam's holiest shrine, a setting which the Saudi king said he hoped would have an effect on the two men. “I hope that the Palestinian brothers……… will not leave the sacred land without a commitment before G-d to stop the fighting and bloodshed,” he said in a statement Tuesday.

Indeed, Abbas warned Tuesday before leaving for Mecca that if the talks fail, it will mean nothing less than a full-blown civil war. In remarks reported by the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, Abbas made it clear that the Saudi-brokered talks are a last attempt to resolve the crisis.

“Failure would mean the deterioration of the internal situation and igniting civil war,” he said in a reference to the bloody clashes that have repeatedly stained the streets of Gaza. “The world ‘failure’ is forbidden.”

Abbas and Olmert have met for unity talks numerous times in the past year in an effort to end the violent struggle between the two factions as they fight for control of the PA.

The escalating clashes are viewed with deep concern by the surrounding Arab countries who fear the Fatah-Hamas gang war will destabilize their own populations and the region as a whole.

But while Abbas and Haniyeh, along with top officials from both factions are sitting down to discuss the matter, battles between their followers are raging in the Gaza streets.

A fierce gun battle was in process as Haniyeh crossed the border into Egypt. Shortly after, Hamas operatives kidnapped a senior Fatah-backed Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade terrorist and three of his bodyguards.

The abduction was followed by another firefight which left one Hamas terrorist dead and three others wounded in a clash with the Fatah-controlled PA security forces near Abbas’ offices later in the evening.