Abbas and Islamist factions prepare for inter-Palestinian dialogue
GAZA CITY: Mahmoud Abbas (also known as Abu Mazen) and Islamist factions boycotting the Palestinian elections in January were discussing ways to ease the post-Arafat transition, a Hamas official said on Friday.
Mazen, who succeeded Arafat as head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, held impromptu meetings on Thursday with Hamas officials, a day after the group urged its followers to shun the January 9 elections and accused his governing Fatah party of “monopolising power”.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that the intra-Palestinian dialogue would continue until a multi-partisan Palestinian leadership was established and put Palestinian internal affairs in order.
“It was agreed with Abu Mazen and our brothers in Fatah that we would hold preliminary meetings to strengthen the dialogue between Fatah and Hamas, which will later include other factions,” he added.
Fatah has named Mazen as its candidate to succeed Arafat, who died on November 11.
Abu Zuhri said that Thursday’s talks focused, among other things, on a “pact of honour” that will inform inter-Palestinian talks and on a document outlining “a mechanism to set up a multi-partisan leadership”.
He added that Mazen and Fatah understood the Hamas decision to stay away from the presidential poll.
Islamic Jihad also said neither it nor its followers would participate in the elections.
Hamas leader Mahmud al-Zahar, who met Mazen on Thursday, said he would meet with the group’s politburo chief, Khaled Meshaal, in Damascus on Monday.
He said that Hamas had mentioned the necessity of fixing a date for the legislative elections no later than June, so that all Palestinian groups could participate.
Islamic Jihad said it was willing to enter into talks with the new Palestinian leadership.
“Abu Mazen may meet the movement’s leadership in exile (in Damascus) to talk about a multi-partisan leadership and the need to preserve national unity,” Mohammed al-Hindi, a senior Islamic Jihad leader, told AFP. He stressed that the group’s decision to boycott the elections did not affect inter-Palestinian relations. afp