Fatah and Hamas teams negotiating reconciliation between the rival Palestinian factions announced Thursday that the implementation of the agreement reached between the sides Wednesday had begun, and the sides were beginning the work of forming a unity government of technocrats within five weeks.
Fatah negotiators left Gaza on Thursday afternoon after two days of negotiations.
The new government that will be formed will not include members of either Fatah or Hamas, but rather experts who will prepare the ground for presidential and parliamentary elections on January 15, 2015.
Deputy Hamas political bureau chief Musa Abu Marzouk said that their remained "many roadblocks on the way to unity, but the desire for reconciliation is great enough to overcome them."
The head of the PLO delegation to the negotiations, Azzam al-Ahmed, said that "implementation of the agreement began the moment the deal was signed. Within five weeks we must complete the formation of the government, as well as other administrative steps, including convening the PLO."
Ahmed told the Bethlehem-based Ma'an News Agency that the anger the unity agreement caused in Israel is misplaced. "This is an internal Palestinian issue, which has no connection to Israel. Israel thinks only negatively of the Palestinian people."
PLO official Mustafa Barghouti said that Israel's reaction to the unity agreement "proves we are going in the right direction."
He called Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "a hypocrite and a liar who is not interested in peace, because he chose settlements and apartheid instead of peace. We will not allow him to pressure us."
Barghouti acknowledged that there were "landmines" in the way of implementing the unity agreement, but stressed that "perseverance will lead to surpassing these landmines."
Bassam al-Salhi of the Fatah negotiating team dismissed Netanyahu's decision to cancel Wednesday's scheduled peace talks meeting between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in the wake of the unity deal.
"We don't need futile negotiations which Israel torpedoes with the US administration's backing," he said.