Hamas, Fatah agreed to continue discussions

Fatah Secretary in Lebanon Fathi Abu al-Ardat told NBN television on Monday that the Fatah representative in Damascus Azzam al-Ahmad said that most issues have been agreed on with Hamas.

Leaders of the two rival Palestinian movements, Fatah and Hamas, held reconciliation talks on Friday and said they wanted the discussions to continue.

Abu al-Ardat also said that another meeting will be held at the end of October.

Hamas Representative in Lebanon Osama Hamdan told NBN television on Monday that the results of the meeting should not be exaggerated, adding that Fatah and Hamas agreed on some issues.

Peace talks

In a related development Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal on Monday urged Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas to immediately boycott Washington-sponsored truce talks.

“To negotiate without a position of strength is absurd,” Meshaal stressed and added that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could not bring peace in the region.

Abbas, who had set extension of ban on reconstruction of settlements as a precondition of talks, has decided to delay the talks’ boycott for a week until he discusses the matter with Arab leaders and Palestinian experts.

Talking to reporters in Paris on Monday, Abbas said he would take up this issue during his meeting with Arab foreign ministers in the first week of October and with Fatah movement and the Palestine Liberation Organization later this week.

In Washington, 87 American senators on Monday called on U.S. President Barack Obama to put pressure on Abbas not to boycott the talks, which have reached at a critical stage and must stay at the table.

“Neither side should make threats to leave just as the talks are getting started,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Obama. “We urge you to continue to emphasize to Israeli and Palestinian leaders that direct talks, while difficult, provide the best hope of reaching a meaningful and lasting peace agreement,” the lawmakers added.

President Obama’s office said that Israel’s decision had upset the White House. U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell, meanwhile, visited the region in the last minute effort to save direct truce talks, which started after 20 months. The European Union as well as the United Nations condemned the Israeli action, while U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon termed Jewish nation’s actions as “provocative”.