Jihad warns Abbas against meeting with Sharon

A senior Islamic Jihad leader warned of a possible civil war if Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas meets with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Khaled al-Batsh told that his movement is advising President Abbas not to meet with Sharon because such a meeting would offer legitimacy to Sharon for "what he did and what he will do."

Sharon said earlier that he will meet Abbas on Oct. 2, either at the outskirts of the Gaza Strip or in Tel Aviv. Palestinian officials said Abbas would ask Sharon to resume talks on final status.

"Holding such a meeting would never serve Palestinian people's interests. Sharon would ask Abbas again to disarm Palestinian militants," said al Batsh, adding that Sharon would turn the meeting from a political meeting to a security coordination meeting.

"Responding to Sharon's conditions would lead to a civil war," warned al Batsh.

Israel has pressed Abbas to disarm militants, a call strongly opposed by Palestinian factions, which vow never to lay down arms until all the Palestinian territories are liberated from Israel's presence.

Israel evacuated some 9,000 settlers from all 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip and four out of 120 in the northern West Bank in August, and completed the withdrawal of its soldiers in mid- September, the AFP reports.

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