Are Fatah and Hamas really going to talk?
By Khaled Amayreh in Ramallah
".......Last week Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni openly warned Abbas against "getting closer to Hamas".
"Abbas knows the Israeli position in this regard," Livni told the Israeli state-run radio.
Some pro-Hamas pundits privately accuse Abbas, whose term in office has six months to run, of electioneering. Abbas had indicated on several occasions that he was close to resigning and would not seek a second term as president of the PA, statements that have been discounted as an attempt to pressure Israel to be more forthcoming in peace talks.
This week Ahmed Qurei, number-two in the PA's political hierarchy, told reporters that Fatah was for general legislative and presidential elections and that Abbas would be Fatah's candidate for the post of PA chair. Abbas's extended hand may well be a tactical gesture aimed at placing the PA leadership in an advantageous position vis-à-vis the elections.
Many Hamas supporters are unlikely to give Abbas the benefit of the doubt. They would argue that Abbas's speech is a pre-emptive gesture, likely to be followed by a wide-scale Israeli invasion of Gaza. In this case, goes the argument here, Abbas will be able to deny any collusion or connivance with Israel, pointing to his call for rapprochement with the Islamic movement."