Mubarak urges Palestinians to end internal crisis; Hamas refuses to extend cease-fire
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, urged the Palestinian leadership in a telephone call with Yasser Arafat to avoid dissent among its ranks, Egypt's state news agency MENA reported Thursday.
Their talks focused on "the need to resolve differences within the framework of the PLO, to preserve the unity of the Palestinians and pursue efforts to guarantee the stability and security" of the Palestinian people, it said.
Egyptian intelligence chief Gen. Omar Suleiman told Arafat and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday night that he intends to arrive in the Gaza Strip by Friday night to try to ease the tension inside Fatah.
Abbas threatened to resign Tuesday unless Fatah backed his tactics in talks with Israel. He also submitted his resignation from a key position within Fatah which was refused. He said he did not plan to step down as prime minister.
On Wednesday, Egyptian intelligence officials met with the main Palestinian factions, Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad. After the talks, senior Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi refused to extend the cease-fire from three to six months, as the Egyptians requested, and threatened an escalation in fighting, it was reported Thursday.
Rantisi said that not only would the cease-fire not be extended, but an escalation in fighting is expected due to Israel's refusal to release prisoners from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)