The leader of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh, has urged Arab nations not to attend an upcoming U.S.-sponsored Middle East conference that will address a final peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
In an interview published in a Palestinian magazine Saturday, Haniyeh said Saudi Arabia and Egypt in particular should reconsider their decision to attend the conference. He also said Palestinians do not have much hope that the meetings will accomplish anything.
In Jerusalem Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held talks about drafting a joint statement that calls for Palestinian statehood. They are due to present the draft at the peace conference, which the United States is hosting next month.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to travel to the Middle East next week to prepare for the meeting.
She is scheduled to visit Egypt and Jordan, in addition to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.