CAIRO: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah urged rival Palestinian factions to settle their differences or face serious repercussions following a Tuesday meeting with President Hosni Mubarak.
Ahead of a two-day meeting in Jordan with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, he told Jordan s Al-Rai daily, I appeal to the brothers in Palestine, who pledged to God in Mecca to shoulder their huge responsibilities, to settle their differences in order to avoid repercussions.
Abdullah and Mubarak concluded their meeting with a postponement of efforts to reconcile between the Fatah government and Hamas, whose parliament was dissolved after the group took over the Gaza Strip earlier this month. The presidential spokesperson told press that things would need to settle before resuming dialogue.
“At the moment, tempers are too high, especially on the part of Abu Mazen, says Walid Kazziha, Professor of Political Studies at the American University in Cairo.
Although both countries have been vocal in their support for President Abbas, Kazziha explains that “there is no way to get rid of [Hamas], and so, it is in the interests of both countries to reconcile the rival parties due to the popular demand to do so from their respective populations.
“It is the least damaging course to take.
Efforts by Egypt and Saudi to further isolate Hamas would likely increase the suffering incurred by the 1.5 million Palestinians isolated in Gaza, a move that would reduce both governments’ influence and popularity amongt Arabs.
Kazziha says Saudi and Egyptian efforts come in spite of strong American and Israeli opposition to reconciliation.
Israel s stubbornness and the refusal by some world powers to help the Palestinians cement understanding between them led to this deterioration, King Abdullah has said.
“This situation cannot last … because it will destroy the hopes of creating an independent Palestinian state.
Following Saudi’s success in forming the Fatah-Hamas unity government last February, media reported increasing rivalry between Saudi and Egypt. Kazziha, though, says the Saudi achievement was a “one-shot effort, and that Egypt maintains the upper hand due to its better understanding and longer history with the Palestinian territories.
The meeting followed a four-way summit in Sharm El-Sheikh between Mubarak, Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and Jordan s King Abdullah II, during which Mubarak emphasized inter-Palestinian dialogue. With additional files from AFP