JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—Increasing reports in the Palestinian media are saying that a new round of talks may be held soon between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. Speculation says that the main impetus for this is the growing rift between PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah, which controls the West Bank, and the Hamas terrorist organization, which rules the Gaza Strip.
On Thursday, the PA-controlled paper Al-Ayyam reported that Abbas would like to meet with Israeli officials, specifically Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz.
Senior PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said on the Voice of Palestine radio on Wednesday that “an Israeli-Palestinian meeting may take place soon.” Although he gave no exact time for such a meeting, Al-Ayyam quoted an unnamed source as saying that Mofaz and Abbas will likely meet in the Jordanian capital Amman next week to discuss ways to restart peace talks that have been deadlocked since September 2010.
PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo told the Voice of Palestine Thursday that the PA leadership is even considering the possibility of a meeting between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. “However, the Israelis have done nothing, politically or practically, to enable such a meeting,” he said.
There has been no official comment by Israel on the possibility of imminent talks.
Foreign-based Arab media are also pushing the possibility of renewed talks. The London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported Thursday that the United States is actively boosting new talks. According to the paper, US envoy David Hill is to arrive in Israel soon to discuss resuming negotiations.
The deepening chasm between the largely secular Fatah and the Islamist Hamas is the gap between a group that is willing to make a deal with Israel, under certain circumstances, like halting settlement, and a fundamentalist organization that swears by Allah to destroy the Jewish state.
On Wednesday, Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad made this clear by damning Fatah in a speech to graduating police officers in Gaza. “There can be no reconciliation with secularists,” he declared. “We must first reconcile with God and only the rule of Islam will prevail.”
Abed Rabbo, a Christian, called Hammad’s remark “a type of extreme hallucination in the name of Islam, an attempt to divide Palestinians into a secular camp and a religious camp,” the Bethlehem-based Maan news agency reported.