No progress, plenty of pessimism from Israelis, Palestinians

U.S., others push for continued talks

continued from page 1

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Abbas adviser Sabri Saidam raised the specter of a hacking-centered “electronic intifada.”

Pro-Palestinian hackers on Wednesday shut down several Israeli websites, barely a week after they had struck the sites of Israel’s stock exchange, national airline, and main bus company.

“This is becoming a way of life rather than a one-off phenomenon,” Mr. Saidam said by phone Wednesday.

Meanwhile in the Gaza Strip, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton added her voice to the Quartet chorus hoping for a continuation of the Jordanian talks.

“We need to keep talks going and increase the potential of these talks to become genuine negotiations,” said Ms. Ashton, who will meet with Mr. Abbas and Mr. Netanyahu in coming days.

She did not meet with Hamas, which controls Gaza, maintaining the EU’s official boycott of the militant group.

In a phone interview Wednesday, senior Hamas figure Ahmed Yousef - the group’s former deputy foreign minister - called the Quartet a “puppet of Israel.”

“They are doing nothing to help the Palestinians or to implement any of the things they have promised the Palestinians, so the Quartet is just functioning to serve the Israelis,” he said.

Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ premier in Gaza, announced Wednesday that he would visit Tehran during an international tour that will begin Monday. Earlier this month, he visited Turkey, Sudan, Tunisia and Egypt in his first trip out of Gaza since Hamas’ June 2007 takeover.

Mr. Haniyeh’s jet-setting comes as he prepares to run for the group’s top position. Khaled Mashal, Hamas’ current leader, has said he will not seek re-election.

Mr. Mashal and Mr. Abbas are slated to meet Feb. 2 in Cairo to discuss implementing a long-stalled unity deal that would end the 4 1/2-year schism between Hamas-controlled Gaza and the Fatah-dominated West Bank and pave the way for new elections.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author

Ben Birnbaum

Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.

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