Abbas’s comments follow Gaza reports that Iran invited the Hamas PM to the summit in Tehran; PA president meets with Meretz leader Gal-On in Ramallah; PA officials tell ‘Post’ Abbas still believes in Israeli peace camp.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that he would not allow Iran to divide the Palestinians.
Abbas’s comments came after reports that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had invited Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to attend the meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran, beginning on Sunday. PA Foreign Minister Riad Malki announced Sunday that contrary to Hamas claims, Iran has not invited Haniyeh to attend the conference in Tehran. Abbas had agreed to attend the meeting on the condition that he would be the sole representative of the Palestinian people at the meeting.
The PA president made the comments as he was meeting with Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On at his headquarters in Ramallah. Abbas agreed to meet with Gal-On, even though for over three years he has consistently refused to hold direct negotiations with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu toward the resolutions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
An Israeli official said in response that such conversations were not a substitute for speaking with Netanyahu. “He [Abbas] is not going to bridge the gaps between Israelis and Palestinians by speaking to the opposition,” the official said.
“His biggest failing is that he refuses to negotiate with the elected government of Israel,” he said.
“I am sure that Abu Mazen [Abbas] reads the polls and understands that she [Gal-On] is not about to become the leader of Israel,” the official said.
Prior to the meeting on Sunday, PA officials said that the talks would focus on the peace process, with Abbas reaffirming his positions on resuming negotiations. The PA president has insisted that talks not resume until Israel agrees to freeze all settlement building.
PA officials told The Jerusalem Post that despite the impasse in the peace process, Abbas still believes in the peace camp in Israel.
Abbas was also expected to complain to the Meretz delegation about the campaign being waged against him by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.
Last week Liberman penned a letter to the Quartet calling for new elections in the PA and the replacement of Abbas.
He also accused Abbas of engaging in diplomatic terror against Israel which “is more dangerous for us then the armed terror Haniyeh, or others are leading. It is a lot more dangerous. He is busy delegitimizing Israel,” Liberman said in an interview with Israel Radio.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.
View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=282632