Amid reports on the failure of reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo this weekend, a Palestinian research center accused the United States of colluding with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in stalling Palestinian rapprochement until after US President Barack Obama visits the region next month.
Ibrahim Darawi, head of the the Palestinian Studies Center in Cairo, told Hamas-affiliated daily Al-Resalah on Sunday that US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro held secret meetings with Abbas and other Palestine Liberation Organization officials, requesting that the Palestinians freeze reconciliation talks until after Obama’s visit.
Talks on Saturday between Fatah, Hamas and other PLO factions failed to produce an agreed-upon date for parliamentary elections or the formation of an interim government tasked with preparing the ground for elections. Darawi said American pressure was to blame for that outcome.
According to Darawi, Shapiro promised Abbas that negotiations would be resumed with Israel if Palestinian reconciliation talks were halted, under the auspices of the new US Secretary of State John Kerry.
But in an interview with Palestinian public radio on Sunday chief negotiator Saeb Erekat denied Darawi’s claims, saying negotiations with Hamas would not stop ahead of Obama or Kerry’s arrival.
“Suggesting that Washington and Israel are placing conditions and vetoing the reconciliation is shameful and should be rejected,” Erekat said.
The US State Department was not available for comment at time of publication.