Relations between the Palestinian Authority and Fatah and Syria are tense in wake of plans for Palestinian opposition organizations to hold a conference in Damascus at the end of the month. President Mahmoud Abbas' adviser, Ahmad Abdel Rahman, who is also a member of the Fatah Central Council, said on Saturday that Syria must "quit intervening in internal Palestinian matters."
The PA is up in arms over the decision of Palestinian opposition groups to assemble for a conference in which they are expected to discuss changes to Palestinian governing bodies.
Rahman said that "every attempt to hurt the Palestinian leadership and its legitimacy encourages those who took power in Gaza to continue with their revolution.
"It is significant that the conference is in Damascus because it shows that Syria is supporting the revolution that Hamas carried out and that hurts the Palestinian cause and the pan-Arab cause," he said.
Abbas' aide also said that he rejects the Syrian claim that all Palestinians can hold conferences in the country. According to him, this is not true and it only adds to the injury which the act inflicts upon the Palestinian cause.
Rahman tried to quell Syrian anxiety and said that the "Palestinian Authority will not separately pursue an accord with Israel. Any accord will be carried out according to Arab strategy, which holds that Israel must withdraw from Arab territory that was conquered in 1967, which includes the Syrian Golan and Shebaa Farms. Thus, there is no reason for Syria's fears and there is no need for Syrian involvement in our internal affairs."
Abbas' confidante noted that there is opposition to every regime and that "Syria also has opposition. Nonetheless, we want a relationship based on mutual respect and noninvolvement in the internal matters of the other party."
Hamas claims that the conference is not intended to spite President Abbas or his leadership. According to senior Hamas figures, the conference is meant to emphasize the Palestinian obligation to their fundamental rights which include the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and the right of return.
The summit attendees are expected to discuss the domestic Palestinian political situation and the need to reconfigure PLO institutions. Officials close to President Abbas fear that the groups may seek to create an alternative leadership structure and a Palestinian umbrella organization analogous to the PLO.
The assembly was originally planned to take place simultaneously with theUS-hosted Annapolis peace conference that was held in November. However after Syria was extended an invitation to the Annapolis summit, the conference was postponed.