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Abbas, Mashaal in Cairo to form unity government

February 22, 2012 18:29

Hamas announces its leaders have agreed on Qatari-backed reconciliation agreement, despite Abbas serving as interim PM.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas

PA President Mahmoud Abbas 390 (R). (photo credit:REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday began a three-day visit to Cairo where he is scheduled to hold talks with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and representatives of several Palestinian groups on the formation of a Palestinian unity government and the implementation of the Qatarbrokered reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas.

Abbas is also expected to meet with Egypt’s de facto head of state, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

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On the eve of the Abbas-Mashaal meeting, Hamas announced that its leaders have agreed to end their differences over the Qatari-brokered reconciliation pact.

Hamas’s political bureau announced, following a meeting in the Egyptian capital, its support for the reconciliation accord, Ezat Risheq, a senior Hamas official, said.

A dispute had erupted within Hamas over the Qatari-sponsored deal that Abbas and Mashaal signed in Doha on February 6.

Some Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip, including Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud Zahar, criticized the deal, mainly because it calls for appointing Abbas as prime minister of a unity government.

Haniyeh and Mashaal also complained that Mashaal did not consult with them and other Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip before signing the deal with the PA president.

The deal also divided Hamas’s armed armed wing, Izzadin Kassam.

One of the Izzadin Kassam’s leaders, Muhammad Deif, has voiced opposition to the deal, while another prominent figure, Ahmed Ja’bari, has come out in favor of Mashaal’s rapprochement with Abbas.

Voicing support for the reconciliation, the Hamas leaders who met in Cairo emphasized the need to implement the deal “accurately and faithfully on the basis of preserving the legitimate rights of the Palestinians and the resistance in driving the occupation away from Palestine,” a Hamas official who attended the gathering said.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that the outcome of the Cairo meeting showed that Hamas remained united despite the differences of opinion over the reconciliation pact with Fatah.

Hamas’s decision to back the agreement with Fatah is seen as a victory for Mashaal, who has come under sharp criticism from several leaders of the Islamist movement for making “far-reaching concessions” to Abbas.
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