Hamas-Fatah talks end without agreement; Mofaz speaks about no time limit for Nablus raid
A meeting between Hamas and Fatah ended Wednesday with no agreement on halting suicide bombings inside Israel, but an Egyptian mediator said the two sides would keep talking.
The Egyptian mediator told The Associated Press Wednesday that both sides planned another round of talks in Cairo
The Egyptian said Hamas has so far not accepted the request to stop suicide bombings but was willing to address the issue in future talks. According to him, Hamas wants guarantees Israel will stop killing Palestinian activists before it commits to stopping suicide bombings.
Asked whether Hamas was ready to stop suicide bombings, Mohamed Nazzal, a member of Hamas' political bureau, said: "The idea is not whether to stop the military action or not but how to continue resistance of the occupation."
Nazzal told AP the outcome of the meetings was positive and said a final communique would be issued later Wednesday.
A huge Israeli military operation is underway in the West Bank with more than 150 armored vehicles moving into Nablus, Palestinian security sources said.
The Israeli forces, backed by helicopter gunships, entered Nablus at 0200 GMT from the east and west, moving towards the center. 30 Palestinians, most of them Hamas members, were arrested.
Israeli military sources told AFP that a military operation was underway in Nablus. Early Tuesday Israeli forces raided the Tulkarem refugee camp.
Israel had vowed tough retaliation for Sunday's shooting spree at a nearby communal farm, Kibbutz Metzer, in northern Israel, which killed five Israelis.
Meanwhile, Israel's Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz reported Wednesday on the Israeli raid on Nablus to the security cabinet. Army Radio said he had asked ministers not to put a time limit on the soldiers' stay in the West Bank's largest city.
Shortly before the Nablus incursion, an Israeli helicopter gunship fired missiles into Gaza City, striking the same metal workshop which had been badly hit two days earlier.
An Israeli army spokesman said the strike was a "continuation of our operation" against a site used to manufacture rockets and mortar shells fired at Jewish settlements and Israeli towns. The owner of the workshop had denied it was used to make arms.
Israeli Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, trying to outflank Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on the right, vowed Tuesday night that if he were elected prime minister he would expel Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
The ex-premier, challenging Sharon to lead the rightist Likud party in a January 28 election, said in a party convention "The first thing that must be done in the next government is to expel this man." "I as prime minister will expel Arafat...I think this is an essential condition to wipe out terror."
Recent polls have given Sharon a commanding lead over the center-left Labor Party for the general election but only a narrow margin over Netanyahu for the party leadership.
Netanyahu said Arafat was "head of the murderers" behind the kibbutz attack. Arafat condemned the shooting.
Just before Netanyahu spoke, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned Israel against forcing Arafat out of the West Bank. "Many governments around the world have indicated that it would be unwise to exile Chairman Arafat, and I hope that will not happen," he told a news conference in New York.
Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat called Netanyahu's threat "unacceptable" and urged Israelis to elect a leadership "capable of making peace and not one that that will sustain the vicious cycle of violence and bloodshed."
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)