Jordan, Egypt urge end to Palestinian infighting

AMMAN (JT) — Jordan and Egypt on Tuesday urged Palestinian factions to end infighting and work on enhancing their unity.

King Abdullah and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said dialogue should be the only means to tackle differences.

They agreed at a Cairo meeting that Palestinian internal fighting harms Palestinian interests and hinders efforts to revive the Middle East peace process.

Hamas-Fateh gunbattles killed at least 22 and wounded 70, taking to 42 the number of dead in the Gaza Strip since Saturday, according to Reuters.

Also Fateh threatened late Tuesday to quit the Palestinian unity government led by Hamas unless raging street battles between the two rivals stopped in Gaza, Agence France-Presse reported.

“The committee has decided that [Fateh] ministers will no longer participate in the government if the shooting does not stop,” said a statement from Fateh’s Central Committee after meeting for more than two hours in Ramallah.

During the King’s brief visit to Egypt, the two leaders called on Israel to endorse the Arab Peace Initiative, which was revived in March.

The peace blueprint, launched in 2002, offers Israel normal ties in return for withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and an agreed solution to refugee issue.

The King and Mubarak also called on the international community to help Palestinians and Israelis resume peace talks.

The Arab League has picked Jordan and Egypt to promote the peace bid.

Foreign Minister Abdul Ilah Khatib told a joint news conference with his Egyptian counterpart Ahmad Aboul Gheit that the visit was part of the two countries’ coordination on Middle East issues.

Khatib said the Palestinian infighting is “completely unacceptable”.

“It must be stopped for the sake of the Palestinian cause and Palestinians themselves, and also to help Arab countries rally support for the Palestinian position, resume the political process and restore Palestinian legitimate rights,” he said.

Aboul Gheit, for his part, said “hidden hands” are behind deadly Palestinian infighting and called on all factions to be “mature” in their responses, AFP reported.

“If there are hidden hands, which is something we recognise, then it is up to the Palestinians to be mature and realise that all the efforts they have made in the last 60 years are at stake,” Aboul Gheit told reporters.

“If there are those who wish to facilitate the Palestinian fighting for their own interests, then it is up to the Palestinians to stand up and follow the right path,” he said.

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