Fatah and Hamas Leaders meet in Mecca

Those of you who keep up with the news in Palestine will sadly read about how Muslims are fighting Muslims and they are both Palestinians. What a sad state. Alhamdulillah Saudi King Abdullah has called for peace talks and negotiations in the most sacred city to Islam, Mecca. May Allah (swt) put barakah into the agreement and give the leaders of the Muslim world guidance to the straight path of Islam. Ameen!

Here is the article:

Fatah and Hamas embark on new peace talks

Palestinian leaders today embarked on a new attempt to stop factional fighting and form a coalition government that could end a punishing western embargo.

The latest peace talks between Fatah and Hamas were taking place in the Saudi city of Mecca as Arab countries tried to broker a deal between the warring factions.

The Palestinian president and Fatah leader, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, who lives in exile in Syrira, will take part in the talks.

“We promise our people that we will do all we can and will exert every effort in order to reach a Palestinian agreement over the formation of a unity government,” the Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, of Hamas – who is also participating in the negotiations – said.

Mr Haniyeh said he was optimistic that leaders would return with a deal “that will heal the wounds, end tensions and reinforce national unity”, while a senior Fatah official predicted that Mr Abbas would finalise an agreement to share power with Hamas.

Kadoura Fares, a former Fatah cabinet minister who met Mr Mashaal last week, told Israel’s Army Radio that Fatah and Hamas had overcome almost all obstacles preventing a national unity government in recent talks.

“Hamas is willing to sign an agreement … that the [new] government respect all the agreements that the PLO signed with Israel,” he said.

Mr Abbas and Mr Meshal met in Damascus last month, but failed to strike an agreement.

The latest meeting will be hosted by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, and senior Egyptian diplomats have also been mediating in the renewed effort by Arab nations to resolve the crisis.

At least 27 Palestinians have been killed and more than 200 injured in several days of fighting on the streets of northern Gaza.

A tentative ceasefire, agreed at the weekend, appeared to be holding in the narrow, densely populated Gaza Strip, where 1.5 million Palestinians live.

However, gunmen in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun stormed the local headquarters of Force 17, which is loyal to Fatah, yesterday night, abducting six of its members, residents said.

In Saudi Arabia, the two sides will be under pressure to agree on a united programme for a coalition government.

Previous attempts to stem the factional bloodshed and find common political ground have resulted in short-lived ceasefires and a threat by Mr Abbas to call new elections – a move Hamas said would be tantamount to a coup.

Complicating the Saudi mediation efforts, the quartet of Middle East negotiators – the US, the EU, the UN and Russia – last week again insisted that a Palestinian government must meet its three criteria – to recognise Israel, to halt violence and to accept previous peace agreements.

Tensions have escalated in Gaza since Hamas, which does not recognise Israel, trounced Fatah in elections last year.

The west imposed an economic embargo and Israel withheld tax receipts from the Palestinian Authority, plunging the West Bank and Gaza into an economic crisis.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders are to hold talks with the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, in around two weeks, an Israeli official said today.

The meeting, between the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and Mr Abbas, will take place during an expected visit by Ms Rice to the region as the US attempts to restart stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Source: Guardian Unlimited

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