Crisis talks aimed at averting an all-out Palestinian Civil War have now got underway in Mecca. Both the leaders from the Hamas movement – including Palestinian Prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh – and Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas from the rival Fatah faction have vowed not to leave Islam’s holiest city until they have resolved their differences.
The stakes are high – 80 people have died in clashes between the two groups since December. Hamas’s Damascus-based political chief, Khaled Meshaal, told delegates: “We have come here to reach an agreement and we won’t leave this place until we do.”
One of the main differences between the two groups is over the acceptance of an Israeli state. Hamas, which won Palestinian elections 13 months ago, does not recognise Israel’s right to exist – a stand which has led the outside world to reduce aid to Palestinians.