Palestinian forces arrest Hamas militants in West Bank

Palestinian security forces arrested 12 followers of Hamas in West Bank Nov. 16, in an ongoing crackdown against the Islamic movement. The arrests, by forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, took place in Nablus, Salfeet and Hebron, a Hamas statement said. The arrests could further complicate efforts to reconcile the Hamas and Fatah movements. Hamas days earlier rejected an Egyptian initiative to hold a Palestinian reconciliation dialogue, saying it cannot sit with Fatah while its followers on West Bank face a Fatah-led clampdown.

Hamas says it has released Fatah prisoners in Gaza Strip as a good-faith measure for the dialogue. Egypt cancelled the meeting which was scheduled for Nov. 10 when Hamas refused to attend. No new date has been set. (Xinhua, Nov. 16)

Despite the surge in violence in Gaza, and opposition within his own Kadima party to his role as a negotiator, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he plans to meet this week with Abbas. Kadima, including its new leader Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, have already said that they aren’t bound by Olmert’s agreements. But on Nov. 16, Olmert told Jewish leaders from around the world gathered in Jerusalem, “As long as I am prime minister, I will spare no effort to make the necessary progress to advance the peace process.” (JPost, Nov. 17)

See our last post on the West Bank and Palestine.