debkafile Exclusive: Hamas-Damascus snatches initiative, picks Yemen for talks with Fatah – after Abu Mazen falters on his referendum ultimatum

Two delegations on way to Sanaa
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas typically pulled back from his tough-sounding ultimatum to Hamas to accept the Prisoners’ Manifesto or face a popular referendum. Tuesday morning, June 6, Shin Beit director Yuval Diskin predicted Abbas would not finish what he started. But then, when Abu Mazen announced another 48-delay for his 10-day deadline which expired Monday, Hamas-Damascus snatched the initiative.
Khaled Meshaal and Mussa Abu Marzuk offered to join talks for solving the violent power struggle between Abbas’ Fatah and Hamas in Yemen. Yemen president Ali Abdullah Saleh was persuaded to host the talks in Sanaa and Hamas accepted on the spot. Abu Mazen’s response is awaited.
Apart from gaining the initiative in the Palestinian internal feud, Hamas’ Damascus-based leadership racks up several points:
1. The Gaza branch will be kept in Yemen for long enough to be whipped back into the radical line and a cure applied to its tendency to meet Abu Mazen halfway.

2. The Sanaa venue moves the internal Palestinian dispute out of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s reach for meddling. He has no influence in Abdallah Salah’s Sanaa.
3. Hamas will be among friends. The Yemeni president is close to Khaled Meshaal and has given him a standing invitation to move Hamas headquarters to Sanaa.
4. The Yemeni president successfully strikes a dual attitude as US ally in the war on al Qaeda, who uses American backing to buttress his regime against the tribes which follow Osama bin Laden (who is of Yemeni descent), while at the same time working with al Qaeda and in good relations with Iran.
The Sanaa meeting, if it takes off, will bring together the Palestinian terrorist groups operating around the Arab world, including Tehran’s proxy, the Jihad Islami. The occasion will be a triumph for Islamic and Arab radicalism and a venue for cross-contacts.
5. Abu Mazen will find it hard to refuse an invitation to this conference, unless ordered to do so from Washington. On the other hand, it will give him a good excuse to call off the ultimatum which in any case would not have been met.

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