Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud ‘Abbas sent a delegation to Damascus in a bid to persuade Syria not to host a summit of Palestinian factions next month.
The meeting, scheduled for November 7, will include Hamas and other Palestinian factions, which are opposed to the United States-sponsored summit in Annapolis, also slated for next month.
The P.A. delegation, which left for Syria on Monday, includes ‘Salih Rafat, Rawhi Fatouh and Na’sr Yousuf.
Rafat, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, announced the delegation would be meeting with Syrian officials and urging them not to host the conference.
Holding this conference, he said, would “deepen the inner Palestinian divide and damage Arab efforts to end the crisis and the separation between the West Bank and Gaza, because of the Hamas coup.”
Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in June in an armed coup, which has, in effect, created two entities in the Palestinian territories. Gaza is controlled by Hamas and the West Bank is controlled by the Fatah government in Ramallah.
‘Abbas adviser Nimr Hammad said the conference in Damascus would only serve Israeli interests and show the weak side of the Palestinians. It would also put Syria in a bad light, because it would indicate Damascus is opposed to the peace process and to the Arab peace initiative.
The conference is intended to counter the Annapolis summit, which Hamas and other factions say will strip the Palestinians of their rights.
‘Abbas has called the Damascus summit illegal.
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