Monday, March 24, 2008


'Signing of Yemeni proposal a mixup' (JPost)
Top aides to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday distanced themselves from a Yemeni plan outlining a path to reconciliation with Hamas movement, and one said an Abbas envoy only signed the document because of a mixup.

Under the Yemeni proposal, signed Sunday, Abbas’s Fatah movement and Hamas would agree in principle to unite in a single Palestinian government. However, in several days of talks in Yemen, the bitter rivals failed to resolve the crucial question of how they should share power.

Abbas has said repeatedly that he would not negotiate a new power-sharing deal with Hamas unless it first steps aside in Gaza. Despite Hamas’ refusal to do so, Abbas sent a representative, former Deputy Palestinian Prime Minister Azzam al-Ahmed, to Yemen to explore the reconciliation proposal - apparently to avoid being seen as inflexible on trying to mend the deep internal Palestinian rift.

On Sunday, al-Ahmed and a senior Hamas representative, Moussa Abu Marzouk, signed a declaration that both accept a Yemeni initiative calling for the creation of a national unity government and the rebuilding of security forces loyal to that government instead of factions.

A senior Abbas confidant, chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei, said Monday that al-Ahmed signed because of a mixup. Al-Ahmed called Abbas’ office repeatedly to get guidance, but Abbas was meeting at the time with US Vice President Dick Cheney, and al-Ahmed went ahead and signed, Qureia said.

“There was a misunderstanding,” Qurei told reporters Monday. “President Abbas was busy hosting Cheney, and Azzam tried many times to contact him (Abbas), but couldn’t reach him. The talks were at the end, and time was pressing.”

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