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Fatah, Hamas take fresh stab at unity deal
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
10/01/2013
Deal between Abbas and Mashaal is to be based on Qatari accord calling for a Palestinian unity government headed by Abbas.
 
The Egyptians announced on Thursday that Fatah and Hamas have agreed to start immediately implementing previous reconciliation agreements signed between the two rival parties.

The announcement came shortly after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal held three hours of talks in Cairo to discuss ways of ending the dispute between the two sides.

Abbas and Mashaal “displayed a positive and responsible spirit” during the discussions, which were attended by senior Egyptian intelligence officials, the Egyptians said in a statement.

Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for Abbas, said that the two sides agreed on the formation of several joint committees to discuss the implementation of the reconciliation accords, first and foremost the Qatari-sponsored unity deal that was signed by Abbas and Mashaal last year.

Abu Rudaineh said that one of the committees would discuss preparations for holding presidential and parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while other committees would be entrusted with dealing with the formation of a Palestinian unity government and the reconstruction of the PLO.

The Qatari accord calls for, among other things, the establishment of a Palestinian unity government headed by Abbas.

The PA spokesman claimed that Palestinians were facing an Israeli “conspiracy” aimed at dividing them and excluding Jerusalem and refugees from a future settlement.

He said that Abbas was convinced more than ever that the Palestinians need to be united, especially in the wake of the UN General Assembly’s vote in favor of upgrading their status to non-member observer state and the recent Fatah anniversary celebrations in the Gaza Strip.

But while Fatah leaders voiced optimism regarding the prospects of ending the rivalry with Hamas, representatives of the Islamist movement said it was premature to talk about a breakthrough or progress in the reconciliation discussions.

The Hamas representatives said that the two parties would hold more meetings in the coming weeks to pursue efforts to close the divide between the two factions.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued a statement denouncing the Abbas- Mashaal talks.

“Abu Mazen [Abbas] embraces the head of a terrorist organization that declared only last month that Israel must be wiped off the map,” Netanyahu said.

“This is not how someone who wants peace behaves.”

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.
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