September 9, 2008 - 8:00pm

The chief of the Arab League said on Tuesday that he was angry with fractious Palestinian political groups and that sanctions against them were being discussed by Arab governments.

Egypt, the main mediator between often rival Palestinian groups, has been holding bilateral talks with minor groups in preparation for similar talks with the two main groups-Fateh and Hamas.

"I am extremely angry with the Palestinian organisations," Amr Musa, secretary general of the league, told a news conference in an unusually harsh criticism of the Palestinians.

"We are studying the measures to be taken in the face of the current Palestinian chaos," he said, after a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo.

But he added: "The sanctions would not be against anyone in particular. They would be against the party which obstructs reconciliation and maybe against everyone or against the organisation which obstructs Egyptian efforts."

If talks with the main groups succeed, Egypt might bring all the factions together in October after the end of Ramadan and the holiday which follows.

Hamas routed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' forces in Gaza in June 2007. In response, Abbas dismissed the Hamas-led government and appointed a new administration in the occupied West Bank where his Fateh group holds sway.

Hamas and Fateh disagree on their approach to talks with Israel and over how to resolve the dispute which led to Hamas control of Gaza.

Musa gave no details of the sanctions the Arab states envisaged against the Palestinian groups. "They [the sanctions] are now all in the framework of closed consultations within the Arab system," he added, referring to the Arab League.

He said: "Do they [the Palestinians] have a state for them to be fighting over ministerial positions? We kidded ourselves and called it the state of Palestine. It's not a state until it obtains its full rights."


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017