Fatah-Hamas Meeting Not the Beginning of a Ceasefire, Israel Says

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:12 PM EDT

Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - A meeting between Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction and the Islamic militant group Hamas is meant to improve coordination between the groups in their struggle against Israel. It is not intended to establish a ceasefire, a senior Israeli official said on Tuesday.

The two groups, which have been meeting in Cairo since Saturday, are trying to improve relations. Things have been very tense, ever since Hamas militants murdered a top PA police official in Gaza some weeks ago.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the European Union were among those said to have encouraged the meeting between the two parties.

Israeli government advisor Dr. Dore Gold said the meeting is meant to coordinate action between Fatah and Hamas in a continuation of their armed struggle.

Gold pointed out that the two groups have worked together since the beginning of the intifadah, the Palestinian uprising, two years ago.

"There is a lot of misunderstanding here about the contents of this meeting in Cairo," Gold said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

"Israelis [were] hopeful that the Palestinians had reached a point [of saying] that violence is the wrong strategy but [in fact] the subject in Cairo was how to best manage the conflict with Israel," Gold said.

"Rather than seeing it as the possibility of a beginning of a ceasefire, it's a return to coordination between Fatah and Hamas," he added.

According to reports from Cairo, Hamas has considered halting suicide bomb attacks for one year.

But Fatah officials were quoted earlier as saying that Hamas had rejected the concept of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hamas vehemently opposes dialogue with Israel.

Fatah also was eager get Hamas to agree to a joint strategy whereby it would restrict terror attacks on Israelis to the West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem unless the terrorism was in retaliation for some Israeli military action.

But on the second day of the talks, a gunman from the Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigade - part of the Fatah faction - murdered five people (including a mother and two children) in an attack on Kibbutz Metzer inside northern Israel.

Arafat said he had ordered an investigation into who had carried out the attack.

The PA is keen to make a distinction between the more than 400,000 Israelis living in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem - the area it claims as a future state - and those living in Israel proper.

But rejectionist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others do not recognize Israel at all and want to see it disappear from the map.

According to Gold, Israel cannot accept any formula whereby it is acceptable to kill Israelis in one area but not in another. It's unacceptable to threaten violence against Israelis anywhere, he said.

There was also concern in Israel about the EU agreeing with the Palestinian definition of acceptable terror. Gold said he hoped that the EU didn't get "drawn into distinctions made by the PA" regarding who was a legitimate target for terrorism.

David Kriss, press officer of the Delegation of the European Commission to the State of Israel, was quoted by the Israel Resource News Agency as saying that the EU had no policy that supported the idea that Palestinians could murder Israelis on the West Bank/Gaza Strip side of the 1948 armistice line - know as the green line.