French Bid Splits Abbas-Hamas

Hamas and Islamic Jihad broke ranks with their new ‘Unity” partner Mahmoud Abbas after he accepted a French offer for talks with Israel.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 3:16 PM

Hamas in Gaza
Hamas in Gaza
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have broken ranks with their new ‘Unity” partner Mahmoud Abbas after he accepted a French offer for talks with Israel.

Abbas, head of the rival Fatah faction and chairman of the Palestinian Authority, said he welcomed the offer of French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe for "talks about President Obama's vision which he spoke about a (Palestinian) state with the '67 borders with borders with Israel, Egypt and Jordan."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet Sunday morning there can be no negotiations with Abbas so long as Hamas remains a partner in his government. Hamas-Fatah unity is a lynchpin for any diplomatic initiative by Abbas, who cannot claim to represent Gaza without the presence of Hamas, the de facto ruler in the region.

The two rival factions signed a unity deal in Egypt last month after four years of openly bitter relations following the Hamas military coup that ousted Fatah as the ruling force in Gaza.

The new unity pact is seen as more superficial than substantial, as evidence by reactions to Abbas’ acceptance of Juppe’s offer.

Salah al-Bardaweel, a senior Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, told the Chinese news agency Xinhua that Abbas' acceptance "was a hasty step; it is a wrong step and meaningless. It would again bring us to an empty circle of absurd talks that will again hurt the internal Palestinian unity.

"What is needed is that Abbas should immediately stop making unilateral decisions. He should consult with the other political powers and factions if he is really committed to the signed reconciliation agreement.”

Dawood Shihab, spokesman of the Islamic Jihad movement, told Xinhua that resuming talks with Israel "means returning again to the empty circle, to the waste of time and serving Israel's interests."

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s Emad Abu Rahma charged that the French initiative "aims at blocking the Palestinians from applying to the United Nations…. Abbas made a mistake although he knows the final outcomes of resuming such talks with Israel. We call on Abbas to reject these initiatives and stop talking to Israel."

A senior Palestinian Authority official told foreign media that Abbas accepted the French bid because it is becoming increasingly apparent that the Arab League will not succeed in bringing to the United Nations General Assembly a motion to declare the PA as a country based on the non-negotiated borders that it demands.