Abbas and Hamas leader.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday he would begin
talks with rival factions, including Hamas, to form a unity
But, underscoring the chasm between Abbas’s Fatah movement
and Hamas, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Abbas had not consulted his group
about his move and the Islamists had only heard about it in media
Past unity attempts have foundered because Hamas and Fatah have
been unable to agree to a joint agenda, above all on how to handle the conflict
Hamas is committed to Israel’s destruction while Fatah
supports a negotiated solution providing for a Palestinian state coexisting
One Israeli government official said reconciliation
would be a move in the wrong direction.
“If Fatah moves toward Hamas,
they walk away from peace, and this would be highly problematic in our
relationship with the Palestinian Authority,” he said.
The official said
there was a great deal of effort taking place right now, led by US Secretary of
State John Kerry, to restart the diplomatic process with the
“We think it is possible,” he added. “But if the PA
embraces Hamas it would throw everything out of sync, and destroy the chances of
re-engagement before they even had a chance to ripen.”
The need to form a
new PA administration was prompted by the resignation earlier this month of
Prime Minister Salam Fayyad because of a rift between him and Abbas, and it has
created an opportunity for Abbas to forge a unity government.
published a statement on the Palestinian official news agency, WAFA, on Saturday
urging factions “to cooperate” with his effort to form a national unity
government that would be charged with readying presidential and parliamentary
Hamas and Fatah have repeatedly failed to bridge their
political differences despite signing an Egyptian- brokered reconciliation
agreement in 2011. There have been no substantive moves to implement the
Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the PLO, said Palestinian basic
law required forming a new administration because of Fayyad’s
“Abbas’s step has thrown the ball into Hamas’s court to
agree on a date for holding elections and they will be responsible for the
failure if they do not accept,” Abu Youssef told Reuters.
Abu Zuhri said
holding elections was not possible under the current circumstances in the West
Bank because Israel maintained overall control of the territory and Fatah
continued to arrest Hamas