Middle East: Muslims mediate between PLO and Hamas

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THE OUTLAWED Egyptian fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood Association is mediating between the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, which murdered an Israeli border guard early this week, to 'persuade Hamas to stop fighting and attacking Palestinians in the occupied territories', Yasser Arafat, the PLO chairman, has revealed, writes Adel Darwish.

Mr Arafat made the announcement to a group of Egyptian journalists and lawyers at a reception held by the Union Of Arab Lawyers in Tunis on Wednesday night. He is reported to have accused Iran of backing Hamas and supplying it with dollars 30m (pounds 19m) to 'fight against Palestinians'.

Meanwhile, Muslim Brotherhood Association sources in Cairo confirmed Mr Arafat's statement in an interview with al-Hayat newspaper, saying they were in 'close touch' with Hamas to persuade the movement to stop its violent opposition to the PLO position, which endorses the United States-sponsored Middle East peace talks.

The same sources also said they were mediating to organise a meeting between the PLO and Hamas, adding that they were 'optimistic' that their mission would succeed. Some Israelis have been calling for co-operation with the PLO to combat the new menace of Hamas, but so far, there has been no response from the Palestinian side.