Hamas, Jihad to Hold Talks with Abbas before Deciding on Attacks

By Arnon Regular

Hamas and Islamic Jihad are waiting until Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas updates them Wednesday about the previous day’s Sharm el-Sheikh summit before they decide whether to halt attacks on Israeli targets.

Israel Radio reported Wednesday morning that Abbas was slated to meet the militant Palestinian factions later in the day to describe the outcome of Tuesday’s summit with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, where the two leaders declared an end to all military and militant operations.

“We are going to listen to Mr. Abbas when he returns,” Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip said Tuesday. “We are going to sit down with him, and then we are going to declare our position.”

Abu Zuhri dismissed the summit, but said it was too early to decide whether Hamas would resume its activities against Israelis. “It did not achieve anything,” he said. “From our people’s interests, the Israeli position did not change.”

Osama Hamdan, the Hamas representative in Lebanon, also said it was too soon to say whether attacks would continue.

Saying Hamas is not bound by the truce, Hamdan said Hamas’ decision will depend on “achievement of a substantial change [in Israel’s position] to meet Palestinian demands and conditions.”

“The talk about what the leader of the Palestinian Authority called a cessation of acts of violence is not binding on the resistance because this is a unilateral stand and was not the outcome of an intra-Palestinian dialogue, as has been agreed previously,” Hamdan told The Associated Press.

But Palestinian Legislative Council member Ziyad Abu Ziyad dismissed Hamas’ declaration that it is not bound by the cease-fire declarations, saying the militant group will maintain regional quiet as long as Israel does not renew military activity.

Abu Ziyad said Wednesday that the Hamas statement was likely a “political” way of distancing the group from the official summit declarations and does not mean it will continue carrying out terror attacks.

Hamas “is committed [to maintaining the quiet] and will continue to be committed as long as Israel commits” to refraining from military activity against the Palestinians, Abu Ziyad told Israel Radio.

Hamdan also said that in order for a truce to succeed, Israel must release Palestinian prisoners and provide “a clear commitment … to halt all kinds of aggression against the Palestinian people. These two conditions were not achieved at the summit. Overall, I think this summit did not achieve any valuable interest for the Palestinian people.”

However, he did not specify how the commitment Sharon made at the summit fell short of Hamas’ requirement. The prime minister said “Israel will cease all its military activity against all Palestinians everywhere.”

Meanwhile, the top Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza also said he would await Abbas’ update.

Nafez Azzam criticized Sharon for failing to explain exactly what he is committing himself to.

“We have mentioned several times before that calm cannot come from one side, and cannot come for free,” Azzam said. “We will wait for the return of Mr. Abbas, and then we will see.”

On arriving with Abbas in Amman after the summit, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia downplayed the Hamas and Islamic Jihad reactions.

“There are good understandings between all the Palestinian groups and factions and leaders,” Qureia said. “We’ll discuss with them now, immediately, the results [of the summit].”

Abbas has held talks with them and other militant Palestinian groups in an attempt to convince them to agree to a truce with Israel.

February 9, 2005

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