Related stories: Palestinian FM says ready to end Hamas-Jordan
Hamas-led cabinet calls for direct talks with
GAZA, May 13 (Xinhua) -- A weapons smuggling dispute
between Jordan and the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) has been
dramatically aggravated this week amid contradicting statements on Saturday by
the Hamas-led government and the Palestinian presidency.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar, a senior
member of Hamas, said on Saturday that he is ready to visit Jordan anytime to
settle a crisis between Hamas and Jordan over a weapon smuggling allegation.
"We are ready to travel to Jordan to end the crisis
and deal with its aftermath," Zahar told reporters, although Hamas refused to
join an official Palestinian delegation formed by President Abbas to go to
Jordan to end the crisis.
Palestinian officials in Abbas' office slammed Hamas
for denying that it was involved in weapons smuggling and for refusing to
participate in the probe delegation to Amman.
On May 7, the Hamas-led government informed Abbas
that it was "not interested" in taking part in a delegation to Amman for a
briefing on the alleged Hamas plot to attack Jordan.
Hamas claimed that it was not directly involved in
the matter, and asked the kingdom to communicate directly with Hamas leader
sexiled in Syria "because they were accused of the plots."
Secretary General of the Palestinian presidency Tayeb
AbdelRaheem demanded on Friday that Hamas punish its members who are involved in
"storing weapons and planning attacks against Jordan."
The request came after the state-run Jordanian
television aired confessions on Thursday by Hamas members that they stored
weapons in Jordan to carry out attacks in the kingdom.
Hamas spokesman and member of parliament Mushir
al-Masri expressed on Saturday "astonishment" over Abdel Raheem's statements.
Al-Masri and other Hamas officials rejected Abdel
Raheem's way in dealing with the internal situation.
The Palestinian people "are used to hearing Abdel
Raheem's statements which mean to cause strife and unrest," al-Masri said. A
security delegation headed by Palestinian intelligence chief Tareq abu Rajab
arrived in Jordan on Tuesday to probe the smuggling issue.
On April 19, Jordan cancelled a scheduled visit to
Amman by Zahar after uncovering various types of weapons smuggled by Hamas
One week later, Jordan arrested several Hamas
activists suspected of planning attacks in the country.
Hamas denied the charge as "totally false and
groundless," saying that Jordan's stance was to exert pressure on Hamas and the
Observers expressed concerns that fresh disputes
between Hamas officials and Abbas' office would widen the gap between the two