Hamas, Fatah agree on unity gov't; Abbas to be PM
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Mashaal says Fatah, Hamas "are serious" about ending division between the two rival factions.
Fatah and Hamas announced Monday they had reached another reconciliation
agreement to end their differences – this time under the auspices of
According to the new accord, dubbed the Doha Declaration,
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is to serve as interim prime
minister of a unity government consisting of independent figures.
government’s main mission, the agreement stipulates, would be to prepare for
presidential and parliamentary elections and rebuild the Gaza Strip.
date has been set for the elections. But some Palestinians said the vote would
take place 90 days after the formation of the new government.
Palestinians predicted the elections would be held later this year.
not clear whether current PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad would be part of the
proposed unity government.
A PA official in Ramallah said he did not rule
out the possibility that Fayyad would be appointed deputy prime minister and
minister of finance.
Abbas’s insistence on keeping Fayyad in his job had
scuttled previous efforts to form a unity government.
Fayyad and many
Palestinians across the political spectrum hailed the latest agreement, saying
it would fulfill the aspirations of Palestinians who want to see an end to the
Fatah-Hamas power struggle.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh also
welcomed the deal and expressed his movement’s readiness to implement it on the
The agreement, which was signed between Abbas and Hamas leader
Khaled Mashaal in Doha, also calls for solving a number of issues that have
hindered the implementation of the previous reconciliation pact that was
announced in Cairo last May.
These issues include the release of Hamas
and Fatah activists who are being held by both sides, reopening closed
institutions, lifting travel bans and allowing Fatah members who fled the Gaza
Strip to return to their homes.
Abbas told Mashaal and the emir of Qatar,
Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, that the PA has released in recent weeks 64
Hamas-affiliated detainees who were being held in Palestinian prisons in the
Abbas and Mashaal also agreed to hold a meeting of the
temporary leadership of various Palestinian groups in Egypt later this month to
review the steps taken by the two parties toward implementing the reconciliation
The new leadership, which was announced in Cairo several
weeks ago, would also discuss incorporating Hamas into the PLO, which consists
of several groups, the largest of which is Fatah.
Azzam Ahmed, a senior
Fatah official, said the unity government would be announced following the Cairo
meeting on February 18.
Ahmed said the leadership meeting would be
attended by several Palestinian groups, including Hamas and Islamic
Abbas said after the signing ceremony that he was committed to the
implementation of the new agreement, “which serves the interests of the
Palestinian people and Arab nation.”
Abbas told reporters the Doha
Declaration was reached “not only so that it would be published, but in order to
implement it on the ground.”
Mashaal, too, affirmed his commitment to the
implementation of the accord and thanked Qatar for its mediation efforts to end
the dispute between Hamas and Fatah.
However, some Hamas officials in the
Gaza Strip voiced opposition to the deal, especially the appointment of Abbas as
“It was Hamas that won the election [in 2006] and not
Mahmoud Abbas,” said a Hamas legislator who asked not to be identified. “Many
people in Hamas are not happy with this agreement.”
legislator, Ismail Ashqar, criticized the Qatari-sponsored pact, saying it
“violated the Palestinian Authority Basic Law and bypassed the Palestinian
Ashqar said the ball was now in the court of Abbas
who, he added, would have to stop the negotiations and security coordination
with Israel to ensure the success of reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.