Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas decided to call for a 'national and comprehensive dialogue' with Hamas after being informed of Israel's plan to launch a wide-scale military operation in Gaza and recapture the coastal enclave, according to a report published Saturday by the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi.
The newspaper quoted Palestinian sources as saying that Israel plans to gradually transfer control over the Strip to the Palestinian Authority, adding that Abbas expressed his objection to the move during last week's meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and demanded that Jerusalem take a positive stance toward Egypt's efforts to broker a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas.
According to the sources, Abbas warned Olmert of the possible ramifications should Israel decide to take over Gaza and is attempting to thwart an Israeli invasion by resuming talks with Hamas.
The report said Israel is looking to re-conquer Gaza, annihilate the Palestinian resistance groups, mainly Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and then gradually transfer control over the Strip to Abbas. However, the newspaper said, the Palestinian president is wary of regaining control in Gaza following an Israeli operation.
Mousa Abu Marzouk, the deputy head of Hamas' political bureau, told Al-Quds Al-Arabi that Abbas had no other choice but to resume negotiations with the Islamist group "after realizing that all of his other options, such as the attempt to isolate Hamas and participate in the blockade on Gaza, had failed".
Senegalese state media reported on Saturday that President Abdoulaye Wade has begun talks with representatives of Hamas and Fatah, hoping to establish common ground in the Palestinian factions' approach to Israel.