Mubarak meets Abbas, Saudi FM on Gaza, inter-Palestinian dialogue

By Xinhua,

CAIRO : Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak held talks here Monday morning with Palestinian National Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal on Gaza situation and the long-stalled inter-Palestinian dialogue.

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They discussed Egypt’s efforts to broker a long-time ceasefire in the war-torn Gaza between Israel and the Hamas-led Palestinian factions, as well as the opening of the Gaza border crossings to allow humanitarian aid into the enclave, said Egypt’s official MENA news agency.

Israeli warplanes launched a series of airstrikes on Sunday night on several targets in the Gaza Strip, including an empty Hamas police station and the borderline between Gaza and Egypt, wobbling the fragile temporary ceasefire roughly observed since Jan. 18.

According to MENA, Mubarak, Abbas and al-Faisal also reviewed the latest developments of the inter-Palestinian dialogue, which would lead to serious negotiations between Palestinians and Israel.

Abbas’ Cairo tour coincides with a Hamas delegation’s separate talks with Egyptian mediators on reaching a formal ceasefire agreement with Israel.

Earlier on Sunday evening, Abbas warned here that there will be no inter-Palestinian talks unless Hamas accepts the authority of the Fatah-dominated Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Abbas told reporters at a press conference that “we make it clear that… no dialogue with those who rejects the Palestine Liberation Organization,” referring to the rival Hamas movement who took control of the Gaza Strip in a coup in June 2007.

“The organization (PLO) is the only representative of the Palestinians,” he added.

Egypt has proposed a “lasting” truce between Israel and Palestinian militant groups as of Feb. 5 and a fresh bout of the inter-Palestinian national unity dialogue on Feb. 22, which was boycotted by Hamas in November.

The Hamas move enraged Egypt, which held Hamas responsible for provoking the 22-day war and is trying to avail itself of the Gaza situation to prod the sluggish inter-Palestinian reconciliation.

“The inter-Palestinian rift had harmed a lot the Palestinian cause and led to the suffering of the people there,” Mubarak said, quoted by local magazine Police on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki warned Sunday that the international donors might think twice over Gaza reconstruction if the feud continues.

“If they (Palestinians) want a real international effort to help them… the only way is their reconciliation and unity,” Zakiwas quoted by the Egyptian Gazette.

After his stop in Cairo, Abbas is expected to fly to Paris for more talks with Europeans.