Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has described the situation in Gaza as “fragile”. His comments came as he began a European tour in Paris, meeting his French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy. Abbas wants to drum up support for a Palestinian unity government, but the divide between his West Bank-based Fatah movement and Hamas, which controls Gaza, remains. While accepting Hamas was an “integral part” of the Palestinian people, Abbas insisted the Islamist movement’s call to replace Fatah was “totally unacceptable”.
Washington’s Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, was also in Paris for discussions with the French foreign minister, after a week of talks in the West Bank, Israel and Egypt. And the Qatari prime minister was there too, as France, which helped broker the Gaza ceasefire, consolidates its position as a player in Middle East diplomacy.