Abbas, Haniyeh discuss referendum; American student briefly abducted in W. Bank
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas met Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, of Hamas, late Saturday, hours after he announced a referendum on a statehood proposal implicitly recognizing Israel. Abbas and Haniyeh met in Gaza along with Interior Minister Said Siyam, also of Hamas. Hamas rejected the July 26 referendum on a document that implicitly recognizes Israel.
Meanwhile, members of an armed Fatah group which claimed to have kidnapped an Israeli Saturday transferred him, a U.S. citizen, to the custody of the Palestinian Authority before dawn Sunday.
The PA security forces subsequently handed the American over to the Israeli army.
Earlier Saturday, the Israeli army and the Shin Bet security service investigated a Palestinian claim that an Israeli citizen was abducted in Nablus. Fatah activists sent a tape to the Reuters News Agency, claiming it showed an Israeli, Benjamin Bright-Fishbein, of Jerusalem. They threatened to kill him if Israel did not release Palestinian prisoners.
Fishbein was snatched by gunmen while having coffee at a Nablus coffeeshop, said Rafa Roagbe, head of Palestinian security in the city.
Fishbein, currently studying at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, went to Nablus as a tourist, Roagbe said.
Palestinian security forces worked with the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades to find and negotiate Fishbein's release, Roagbe said.