Israel destroys West Bank homes; Hamas, Islamic Jihad agree to attend Cairo talks
Israeli army bulldozers demolished three Palestinian houses and two shacks Wednesday near a Jewish settlement in the southern West Bank, Palestinians said.
Meanwhile, two key Palestinian groups have decided to attend Palestinian national dialogue after initially saying they would stay away, a senior Palestinian official said late Tuesday. "Hamas and Islamic Jihad have informed the Egyptians tonight they have changed their position and will send their representatives to Cairo for the talks," the official told Reuters.
Other Palestinian officials said the talks planned for Wednesday would be held on Thursday instead. A draft proposed by Egypt to halt for one year Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians is expected to be discussed.
The two froups said strikes against Israelis would continue as long as Israel's forces occupy land it took in the 1967 Middle East war, which Palestinians want for a state. "Our resistance is continuing and it will not stop. Our resistance is linked to the violence of the occupation and it will not end before it is removed," said Abdullah al-Shami, an Islamic Jihad leader in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian sources in Beirut had earlier said the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), led by Ahmed Jibril, had been excluded, prompting the two groups to skip the talks. But a Palestinian official from another faction said Egypt had invited all 10 major factions and said Syrian rejection of the talks lay behind their decision.
Egypt on Tuesday called off the talks due to the dispute over which groups would attend, officials from two factions said.
"Egypt cancelled the meeting after Syria refused to allow Palestinian factions based in Damascus to go to Egypt for the dialogue," a Palestinian official in Cairo told Reuters.
The deputy chief of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, politburo, Dr. Mousa Abu Marzuq said the group would not attend the talks, scheduled for Wednesday, because several Palestinian factions were not invited.
“We believe that the dialogue should be a comprehensive Palestinian dialogue to discuss a Palestinian baseline for adopting a plan that would regulate the resistance of the Palestinian people and help them restore their rights. When some factions are excluded from attending, this means there is no reason for us to attended such a meeting,” he told Al Bawaba.com.
Later, he told the Saudi television station MBC: "There has been a good development in that invitations have been sent to previously excluded factions." Asked if this would encourage Hamas to attend the talks, he said: "No doubt we will answer this call positively."
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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