Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal
announced on Thursday that they had agreed to work as “partners,” saying they
would open a new page in relations between Fatah and Hamas.
Abbas and Mashaal said they had held “positive” talks in Cairo, they failed to
reach agreement over the formation of a Palestinian unity
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They did agree, however, to hold presidential and
parliamentary elections in May and to release each other’s detainees from their
The two men are to meet again on December 22.
“There are no differences between us at all, and we agreed to work as partners
and share responsibilities,” Abbas told reporters after the meeting. “We
share the same responsibility toward our people and cause.”
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev said following the meeting
that “the closer Abbas gets to Hamas, the further away he gets from
Netanyahu, in a press conference with visiting Romanian Prime
Minister Emil Boc before the results of the Abbas-Mashaal meeting were known,
said he hoped “the Palestinians choose to move away from the prospective union
with Hamas, and to move away from unilateral steps.”
To the extent that
Abbas moves away from Hamas and to direct negotiations with Israel, he said,
“peace will be advanced, and this will serve the interests of both Israelis and
Israeli government officials, noting that there was no
joint press conference after the Cairo meeting and that Abbas left as quickly as
possible, said it appeared that the meeting was “more ceremonial than
Regarding the $100 million of Palestinian tax revenue that
Israel has refused to release to the PA since the Palestinians were accepted as
a member of UNESCO earlier this month, the officials said that no decision had
been taken to free the money.
Over the past week, Israel has come under
intense diplomatic pressure from around the world to release the
“One thing is clear,” the officials said. “Had Abbas signed a
unity government agreement with Hamas, there would be no chance whatsoever that
the money would continue to flow.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
said Wednesday that Israel would not transfer “one shekel” to the PA if a unity
government were formed without Hamas first recognizing Israel, abandoning
terrorism and accepting previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
said in a brief statement that he had reached agreement with Abbas to “open a
new page” in relations between the two sides. He said that the two parties were
serious about implementing the Egyptian- brokered reconciliation deal reached by
Fatah and Hamas last May.
“I want everyone to be reassured and await
developments on the ground and not talk,” Mashaal said. “The atmosphere is
positive and we hope that our people would help.”
Following the summit,
Hamas and Fatah announced that they would hold additional meetings next month to
discuss the implementation of the reconciliation accord.
Azzam al-Ahmed said that Abbas and Mashaal had discussed all the issues
mentioned in the reconciliation accord: reconstructing the PLO, forming a unity
government, holding new elections and reuniting Palestinian civilian and
Admitting that the two sides had failed to reach
agreement on the establishment of a unity government, the Fatah official said
that Abbas and Mashaal would hold another meeting to discuss this
Hamas is strongly opposed to the appointment of current PA Prime
Minister Salam Fayyad as head of any government.
A PA official in
Ramallah said that Abbas had emphasized during the summit that he was unable at
this stage to dump Fayyad because of American and European pressure and threats
to suspend financial aid to the Palestinians.
Ahmed said that Hamas and
Fatah had agreed to form a committee that would look into ways of reconstructing
the PLO so that Hamas would be able to join the organization. Hamas has never
joined the PLO, which consists of several Palestinian groups – the largest being
Fatah. The PA is an organ of the PLO.
He added that the two sides
had also agreed to release each other’s “political detainees,” who are being
held in PA and Hamas prisons in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,
In addition, he said, they agreed to lift travel bans
imposed by the PA and Hamas governments on members of both parties, and to hold
the next elections in May as envisaged by the reconciliation deal in
The parties were also in agreement on the need to enhance “popular
resistance against settlements and the [security] wall,” he said without
From now on, Fatah and Hamas will coordinate their steps in
the international arena, the Fatah official said.
Ezat Risheq told reporters that the Abbas-Mashaal summit had been “positive and
frank” and that it “inaugurated a new phase in the life of the Palestinian
people – an era with no divisions.”
He added that the most significant
outcome of the summit was that Fatah and Hamas had now agreed to implement last
May’s reconciliation accord.
“The Palestinians and the entire world will
sense real steps on the ground,” Risheq said.
He, too, conceded that the
two sides had failed to reach agreement on the formation of a unity government,
but said the issue would be discussed in future meetings between Hamas and