Haniyeh accepts invite to Non-Aligned summit
Published Saturday 25/08/2012 (updated) 27/08/2012 10:08
Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh (MaanImages/Wissam Nassar, File)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- The Hamas-run government in Gaza confirmed on Saturday that Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh will attend the meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Iran next week, after West Bank officials had slammed Tehran for deepening the rift between the two authorities.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Saturday urged his counterpart in Gaza not to attend, after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad invited Haniyeh to join the summit of 120 non-aligned nations.
President Mahmoud Abbas was also invited to the meeting.
"This is a serious escalation by Iran against Palestinian unity and against the Palestinian Authority’s role as the guardian of the Palestinian people both in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank including Jerusalem," Fayyad said.
"Unfortunately, this hostile Iranian position benefited from some recently-emerging trends dealing with Hamas as the representative of the Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip. Followers of this trend claim they do not want to take sides when it comes to Palestinian parties, as if the PA was one of numerous sides rather than being an umbrella for all the Palestinian people and factions both in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip," he added.
Fayyad called for Haniyeh to "give priority to his loyalty to Palestine and his patriotism over any other considerations."
The premier's position is that the Palestine Liberation Organization is legally the sole representative of the Palestinian people, and it has given the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority the task of governing Palestine.
Director of the PLO's politburo in Damascus Anwar Abdul-Hadi told Ma'an that among Palestinian officials only President Abbas was formally invited to participate in the summit, according to a source in the Iranian consulate in Damascus.
The PLO Executive Committee also issued a statement on Saturday, saying that Haniyeh's invitation shows "Iran has joined the goals of the Israeli band."
Despite different interests, both Iran and Israel aim to unsettle the political system and maintain the state of disagreement, with Iran encouraging Gaza's leaders by giving them legal recognition, the PLO statement continued.
For the Hamas-run Gaza government, the party's victory in the last Palestinian elections give its leaders a legitimate mandate for governing Palestine.
A year after the elections, in 2007, Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip as world censure of the movement and failing attempts to form a unity government with Fatah collapsed into inter-factional violence.
Despite efforts to reconcile the movements, they have ruled separate governments in the West Bank and Gaza ever since, both claiming sole legitimacy.
Confirming Haniyeh's attendance, Gaza government spokesman Taher Al-Nunu said called on all parties to respect the democratic choice of the Palestinian people, stressing that Haniyeh will participate as an elected prime minister.
Haniyeh's deputy Muhammad Awad urged the sides to "close ranks" and form a joint delegation representing Palestine.