NEWS: The mirage of Middle East peace

Haniyeh, Meshal urge Abbas not to fall into ‘trap’ of peace summit

Haniyeh, who was dismissed from office after Hamas overran Gaza in June, criticized Abbas for planning to attend next month’s U.S.-sponsored international peace conference, meant to provide support for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. He cautioned the PA chairman “not to give this occupier legitimacy on our land.”

“Don’t fall into the trap of the coming conference. Don’t make new compromises on Jerusalem, on our sovereignty,” Haniyeh urged.

Khaled Meshal echoed the warning in a holiday message on Hamas radio. And he urged Abbas, who set up his own government in the West Bank after Hamas’ Gaza takeover, to accept the Islamists’ invitations for dialogue.

“Abbas and his allies will find out that they are pursuing nothing but a mirage,” Meshal said, referring to the conference. [complete article]

Hamas offers talks with Fatah

Hamas has said it will hold reconciliation talks with Fatah and hinted it may be ready to give up control of the Gaza Strip it seized in June. [complete article]

Senior Fatah official rules out reconciliation with rival Hamas

Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction ruled out talks with Hamas on Thursday, while Israel said any such dialogue with the Islamists could “torpedo” a peace deal. [complete article]

Stalemate threatens Mideast peace talks

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas put negotiators to work last week with instructions to make progress in advance of a U.S.-sponsored peace conference tentatively set for next month. Yet the talks have reached an impasse, aides said, prompting the two leaders to look to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to salvage the effort during a six-day visit to the region starting this weekend. [complete article]

U.S. grills Israel over road planned on Palestinian land

United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that she asked the Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Sallai Meridor
for clarifications about an Israeli plan to build a road near Jerusalem, partly on confiscated Palestinian land. Palestinians charge the construction will cut them off from Jerusalem. [complete article]

Israel-Palestine talks must be inclusive, urge U.S. graybeards

To succeed, next month’s Israeli-Palestinian conference here should establish and endorse the contours of a permanent peace accord and secure the participation of Arab states that do not currently recognize Israel, including Syria, according to a letter sent Wednesday to President George W. Bush from a bipartisan group of eight former top US policy-makers. [complete article]

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