Hamas and Fatah call off talks

Hamas and Fatah called off top-level talks on forming a Palestinian unity government in the latest indication of difficulties in bridging their huge ideological differences.

    Abbas has postponed his planned trip to Gaza

    Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and the head of Fatah, postponed his planned trip to Gaza for talks with Ismail Haniya, the prime minister and Hamas leader, and both sides said no new date has been set.

    Hamas has refused to recognise Israel and Fatah have said that such ideological differences impede the formation of a unity government.

    Fatah, under the late Yasser Arafat, recognised Israel and conducted several rounds of peace talks, resulting in partial agreements. However, a full peace treaty eluded the two sides.

    Impasse

    Hamas and Fatah have appeared close to agreement on several occasions based on the "prisoners' document", a programme put together by prominent Palestinians in Israeli prisons, which calls for a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Some believe that implicitly accepts Israel next door, without stating the recognition.

    Neither side would give a reason for the latest delay or speculate about the next move.

    The prospect of a new front in peace moves emerged on Monday when Israeli media reported that Olmert met a senior Saudi official. Saudi Arabia won praise from Olmert for its measured stance during the recent Israel-Hezbollah war, and it has recently revived a peace initiative based on pan-Arab acceptance of Israel in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal from all of the West Bank.

    Speculation

    The Yediot Ahronot daily reported that Olmert and an unidentified top Saudi official met 10 days ago. The talks focused on Iran's nuclear programme and the need to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the newspaper said.

    The Israeli daily Haaretz later reported that the meeting took place on September 13, and Israel's Army Radio said the talks were held in the royal palace in Riyadh.

    But Olmert denied the meeting, saying: "I did not meet with the Saudi king and I did not meet with anyone who should cause a media stir. I didn't hold any meetings with anyone. All the rest is just imagination and speculation."

    A Saudi official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, called the reports of a meeting "a figment of their imagination".

    Also on Monday, an Israeli military court ruled that 21 Hamas legislators and cabinet ministers would remain in Israeli custody, overruling a lower court.

    Israel rounded up dozens of Hamas officials after Hamas-linked fighters captured an Israeli soldier in a cross-border raid in late June.

    SOURCE: AFP


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Meet the deported nurse aiding asylum seekers at US-Mexico border

    Meet the deported nurse helping refugees at the border

    Francisco 'Panchito' Olachea drives a beat-up ambulance around Nogales, taking care of those trying to get to the US.

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    The rise of Pakistan's 'burger' generation

    How a homegrown burger joint pioneered a food revolution and decades later gave a young, politicised class its identity.

    'We will cut your throats': The anatomy of Greece's lynch mobs

    The brutality of Greece's racist lynch mobs

    With anti-migrant violence hitting a fever pitch, victims ask why Greek authorities have carried out so few arrests.