GAZA CITY, March 23, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Tuesday that his invitation to President Mahmoud Abbas to hold talks in the Gaza Strip was still open.
As reported by Ma’an News Agency on Tuesday, Haniyeh said he invited Abbas to the enclave to continue talks to resolve the national split between Hamas and Fatah, and their rival governments in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
The Gaza premier called for emergency talks on Tuesday as massive youth protests broke out in the Gaza Strip and across the West Bank demanding an end to the division.
Abbas accepted the invitation Wednesday, but said the purpose of his visit was to make a unity deal, not to discuss one.
Senior Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmad said Saturday that “Dialogue has become like deaf people trying to communicate. There is nothing left to talk about. Any further dialogue will have to follow after reconciliation is achieved and not before.”
During a visit to the home of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the Gaza premier said reconciliation would only be reached through dialogue.
Haniyeh called for a national conference to bring together Palestinians in the occupied territories and in the diaspora to discuss national issues, including elections for the Palestinian National Council.
He added that the Hamas-run government in Gaza was committed to national unity.
Meanwhile, Abbas’ advisor Nimir Hammad said the Palestinian Authority had not received any positive feedback from Hamas about the president’s initiative to visit Gaza. He said some Hamas spokesmen had responded negatively to the planned visit.
Hammad told Ma’an radio that Hamas leaders thought by continuing the national division they could keep control of Gaza.
At a meeting with Arab ambassadors in Budapest on Monday, Abbas said that if Hamas leaders accepted his initiative, he would cut short engagements in Europe and head straight to the Gaza Strip.
He added that if Israel tried to prevent the visit, he would travel through Egypt.
“If the Israelis won’t allow me to visit Gaza through the Erez crossing, I will go via the Rafah crossing. In fact I am ready to break my visit to Hungary and head to Gaza immediately if Hamas agrees.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to slam the developments towards Palestinian unity. In a CNN interview broadcast Thursday, he said Palestinian reconciliation would be the end of the peace process.
The president has not yet set a date for the meeting, but the trip would be a landmark visit.
Abbas has not set foot in Gaza since Hamas ousted Fatah from the coastal enclave in 2007 in clashes which neared civil war.
The parties’ rivalry dates back two decades, and several years of unity talks have so far failed to reconcile the factions.
The split has badly damaged the Palestinian national movement and divided the Palestinian territories, which are governed by separate authorities. (*)