Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas authorized a review of all private organizations in the Pa-lestinian areas, signaling he may shut down Hamas-affiliated groups to counter the Islamic movement after it took over the Gaza Strip.
Also on Friday, the Quartet of Mideast peacemakers decided to hold talks in Jerusalem on Tuesday, the first time since Hamas seized control of Gaza, UN and Israeli officials said. The meeting comes as Western-backed regional leaders try to use Hamas' takeover to promote peacemaking between Israel and Abbas, the leader of Hamas' moderate rival, Fatah.
But deposed Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas warned on Friday that his movement could not be ignored.
Abbas on Friday issued a president decree asking the interior minister to review the legal status of all non-governmental organizations. It also gave these groups a week to re-register.
The step could be a sign Abbas intends to clamp down on Hamas' broad network of social and welfare organizations in the West Bank. Since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, leaders of the group have been driven underground in the West Bank by a Fatah campaign of kidnappings and arrests.
In a sign of the uncertainty in the West Bank, three gunmen abducted a senior Hamas official, former justice minister Ahmed Khaldi in Nablus on Friday, Palestinian security said. The unknown gunmen released Khaldi shortly afterward.
Palestinian security said it was investigating the kidnapping.
As part of international backing for Abbas, Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian and Jordanian leaders will get together tomorrow in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik to discuss prospects for resuming peace talks that have been effectively stalled for seven years.
Efforts to restart the peace process have been complicated by the emergence of a dueling Palestinian governments ruled by the Iranian-backed Hamas in Gaza and the Western-backed Fatah in the West Bank.
Immediately after Hamas routed Fatah-led security forces in Gaza, Abbas expelled Hamas from its governing coalition and installed a new government of moderates.
Israeli government spokeswoman Miri Eisin said the Quartet meeting on Tuesday will be of low-level envoys from the US, UN, EU and Russia. In Moscow, a Russian envoy to the Middle East, Sergei Yakovlev, said officials in the meeting "will discuss the situation in the region, the talks for the Quartet and plans of action for the future," Russia's Interfax news agency reported.
In Gaza City, Haniyeh said Fatah could not exclude Hamas when determining the future of the Palestinian people and derided international attempts to sideline the group.