PLO infuriated by preferential treatment Hamas now gets in Arab states

Special to

CAIRO — Arab League states have been ignoring the Palestine
Liberation Organization for the Islamist opposition.

Arab diplomats said Hamas has threatened to overshadow the PLO in
numerous Middle East capitals. They said Hamas delegations were given
the red-carpet treatment in such countries as Egypt, Qatar, Tunisia and

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki (right) receives from Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh the key of Al-Quds on Jan. 5 at Carthage Palace in Tunis. /AFP/Getty Images

“Hamas is being seen by Islamist governments as the true
representative of the Palestinian people,” a diplomat said.

The foreign treatment of Hamas has infuriated the PLO, with embassies throughout the Middle East and the Third World. The diplomats pointed to the recent six-nation Middle East tour of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

“The PLO legations in those countries were made to feel second-class,” the diplomat said.

Tunisia is said to have most angered the PLO, which used the North African country as its headquarters from 1982 until 1994. The ruling Enahada party refused to brief the PLO embassy on the arrival of Haniyeh on Jan. 5, his first foreign tour as Hamas prime minister.

The Tunisian daily Le Maghreb said the red carpet treatment for Hamas angered the PLO and its chairman, Mahmoud Abbas. Le Maghreb said the backlash could harm reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas.

During his visit to Tunisia, Haniyeh was welcomed by Prime Minister
Hamadi Jebali and Enahda chairman Rached Ghannouchi. The Hamas premier was
accompanied by Tunisian Human Rights Minister Samir Dilous.

“The popular and official welcome I received reflects Tunisia’s concern
for the Palestinian cause,” Haniyeh said on Jan. 8.

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