Abbas to attend only if he is sole representative

The Palestinian Authority on Saturday criticised Iran for inviting a Hamas leader to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Tehran, calling into question whether President Mahmoud Abbas would still attend.

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad described the invitation to Ismail Haniyeh as “a stab in the back of the Palestinian national project”. “The Palestinian Liberation Organisation is the sole representative of all the Palestinian people,” Mr. Fayyad said in a statement.

The invitation from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was conveyed to Mr. Haniyeh’s office on Friday, Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Malki warned that if Mr. Abbas was not the sole Palestinian representative at the summit then the President may not participate.

Iran had invited Mr. Abbas to next week’s summit two months ago, according to IRNA.

Mr. Haniyeh’s deputy, Muhammed Awad, said there should be a Palestinian delegation representing both Gaza and the West Bank.

“The Ramallah [government] should look at this as a move to have all the Palestinians present at the summit,” he said.

Yousef Rezqeh, a political advisor to Hamas in Gaza, told DPA that Mr. Haniyeh has not yet decided whether he will attend.

“He is holding consultations with the members of his government, and certainly the decision that will be made will serve the highest interests of the Palestinian people,” Mr. Rezqeh said.

In June 2007, Mr. Abbas dismissed Mr. Haniyeh from the premiership after Hamas seized full control of the Gaza Strip.

Mr. Haniyeh refused to accept Mr. Abbas’ decree, and since then Hamas has been ruling the Gaza Strip, while an Abbas-appointed government controls the West Bank.

Some analysts regard the late invitation to Mr. Haniyeh as a revision within the Iranian establishment over who should be allowed to represent the Palestinians.

Iran is a supporter of Hamas and considers it to be the legitimate government of the Palestinians.

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