Julie Stahl | Jerusalem Bureau Chief | Monday, January 29, 2007
More than 30 Palestinians have been killed since the latest round of Fatah-Hamas clashes erupted last Thursday. Hamas controls the Palestinian legislature and the prime minister's office. But the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, is from the Fatah faction.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and other Hamas officials met with an Egyptian security delegation on Sunday in an attempt to quell the violence. Egypt has been a frequent mediator in the past, but this time Saudi Arabia also is offering to play a part.
Saudi King Abdullah invited Hamas and Fatah leaders to come to Mecca for an "urgent meeting in brotherly Saudi Arabia" to discuss the disputes in a neutral environment, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
Hamas accuses Fatah of trying to topple the Hamas-led Palestinian government. But on Monday, the Jerusalem Post quoted unnamed Fatah officials as saying that Iran and Syria are causing the trouble.
Iran and Syria are encouraging Hamas to keep up the fight against Fatah to "deliver a message" to the Americans that as long as the U.S. ignores Iran and Syria, there won't be "stability in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon."
Saudi Arabia was once a main financial supporter of Hamas. But since the Islamic fundamentalist terrorist group was elected to lead the Palestinian government last year -- prompting an international boycott -- Saudi Arabia has backed off.
At the same time, Iran has moved in to fill the void, donating millions of dollars in cash to Hamas and offering to train its fighters. The Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hizballah is also involved in military training for Hamas members, reports say.
The Saudi offer to mediate the inter-Palestinian violence reportedly comes amid concerns about Iran's growing involvement in Palestinian affairs.
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