JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) – Saudi King Abdullah and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Sunday agreed that the Arab League should oversee truce talks between Fatah and Hamas, a Palestinian diplomat said.
“The two sides agreed that all inter-Palestinian dialogue should take place under the supervision of the Arab League,” Palestinian representative to Riyadh Jamal Shobaki told AFP.
King Abdullah and Fatah leader Abbas also discussed the status of US-backed peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians during Sunday’s meeting in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, Shobaki added.
Abbas last week called for dialogue with Hamas, which ousted his loyalists from Gaza in June last year, breaking with his previous policy of rejecting any opening until the Islamists cede control of the territory.
Hamas responded favourably to Abbas’s overture, raising hopes of reconciliation between the two sides although prospects of a peace deal with Israel before the end of the year look increasingly unlikely.
Saudi Arabia brokered an agreement between Fatah and Hamas in early 2007 that led to the formation of a Palestinian unity government but unbridled tensions between the two sides led to fierce fighting which resulted in the Gaza takeover only months later.
Abbas was late Sunday to travel to Cairo for talks on Monday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Shobaki said.
The meeting will focus on Palestinian anger over Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank, particularly annexed Arab east Jerusalem, and Abbas is expected to outline progress of his latest talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the official Egyptian MENA news agency said.
The Arab League oversaw a deal struck on May 21 in the Qatari capital of Doha between rival Lebanese politicians, ending an 18-month crisis that erupted into street battles which killed 65 people.