August 20, 2008
PA Worried About Rapprochement Between Hamas and Jordan
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
The Palestinian Authority is concerned about the apparent rapprochement between Hamas and Jordan, a PA official in Ramallah said Monday.
The official said that the PA has asked Jordan to clarify its position regarding reports about a series of meetings that took place in Amman recently between senior Hamas representatives and Jordanian government officials.
"We are trying to find out from our Jordanian brothers what's going on with Hamas," the PA official told The Jerusalem Post. "We are worried by the reports in the Arab media about a rapprochement between Jordan and Hamas."
The official said that while the PA welcomed Jordan's involvement in the Middle East peace process and its efforts to end the Hamas-Fatah rift, "We are worried that talks with Hamas would give it legitimacy and turn it into a major player. We must not forget that Hamas staged a coup against the legitimate Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip."
Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip said Monday they were unaware of any plan by Khaled Mashaal, the Syrian- based Hamas leader, to visit Amman in the coming weeks.
However, they expressed hope that the Jordanians would eventually permit Mashaal to return to Amman.
Mashaal, who used to carry a Jordanian passport, was kicked out of Jordan about a decade ago after being accused of threatening the kingdom's national security.
The talks between the Jordanians and Hamas follow years of tensions between the two sides.
The tensions reached a climax two years ago when the Jordanian security forces thwarted an attempt by Hamas to smuggle various types of weapons into the kingdom.
Contrary to reports in the Arab media, the talks were initiated by Hamas representatives and not by the Jordanians.
Hamas has been seeking to repair its relations with the Jordanian government for several months, a Jordanian government official said.
He added that Mashaal had sent several emissaries to the kingdom in recent months with the hope of persuading the Jordanians to allow him back into the country.
During the recent talks in Amman, the Hamas representatives called on the Jordanians to help in ending the blockade that has been in effect in the Gaza Strip for more than two years.
The Hamas representatives also expressed hope that the Jordanians would be able to act as mediators to solve the ongoing dispute between the movement and Fatah.
A Hamas official in the Gaza Strip said that his movement was "very interested" in having the Jordanians play a role in solving the problems facing the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"Jordan is an important player in the region," he said. "We believe that because of their good relations with the Israelis, Americans and Mahmoud Abbas's authority, they would be able to move things in the right direction."
Muhammad Nazzal, a senior Hamas official who participated in the talks, said that one of the ideas discussed with the Jordanians was the possibility of deploying Arab troops in the Gaza Strip. He said that while the Jordanians appeared to favor the idea, Hamas remained vehemently opposed to it.
Nazzal claimed that the Jordanians were extremely worried about talk regarding turning Jordan into a homeland for the Palestinians. "Both Hamas and Jordan reject the so- called Jordan Option as a solution," he said.
Originally published by KHALED ABU TOAMEH.
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