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Monday, October 20, 2003

Fatah delegation to meet with U.S. State Department

Dear Lord, either this is nuts, or I am.

JPost story:
The three senior Fatah officials who were invited to Washington are expected to meet with US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs David Satterfield, Palestinian sources said on Sunday.

The three, Hatem Abdel Kader, Ahmed Ghnaim, and Kadoura Fares, will also hold talks with members of Congress and representatives of the Democratic and Republican parties, as well as Jewish leaders, the sources added.

The three were invited by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank headed by former US Middle East envoy Dennis Ross.

Abdel Kader told The Jerusalem Post that he and his colleagues plan to hold talks in Washington with US officials about the latest developments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"This is the first time that Fatah officials have been invited to Washington for discussions on what's happening in the Palestinian Authority," he said.

According to Abdel Kader, the Fatah team will call on the US to end its boycott of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat. "We will stress that President Arafat is the elected leader of the Palestinian people and that Washington must talk to him directly," he said.

The Fatah officials will also brief the Americans on the "Geneva Initiative" hammered out last week between Israeli opposition leaders and a group of Palestinian activists, Abdel Kader added. The three Fatah leaders support the initiative and one of them – Kadoura – participated in the negotiations with the Israeli delegation led by Yossi Beilin.

Abdel Kader and his friends have also been involved in secret negotiations with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other Palestinian groups in an attempt to reach a new temporary cease-fire with Israel. "During our visit, we will seek US backing for our efforts to declare a new hudna (temporary cease-fire)," he explained.

Muhammad Hourani, a Fatah official who was also invited to Washington but decided not to go, said on Sunday that the visit is important, "because of the need to have a Palestinian voice in the US."

"These meetings are important, because they will present the Palestinian view," he said.

Hourani said the Fatah leaders are visiting Washington "on the instructions of Arafat."
Like Jacoby said (see his Boston Globe editorial below), "a network of killers posing as a government."

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