Talks on PA unity government frozen

By JPOST STAFF
September 16, 2006 14:12

Abbas advisor: Hamas went back on agreements, rejected Quartet demands.

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Talks between Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas on a PA unity government are frozen, Abbas's media advisor Nabil Amer said Sunday morning. According to Amer, Hamas went back on agreements with Abbas and refused to accede to Quartet demands. On Saturday, PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said that the political program of the proposed Palestinian national unity government does not include recognition of agreements that were previously signed between Israel and the Palestinians. "The program does not talk about recognizing agreements that were signed with the Israeli occupation," he told reporters in Gaza City. "Instead, it mentions that we will have to accept these agreements in accordance with the national interests of our people. This does not mean that the new government would recognize these agreements." Meanwhile, PA officials said that Abbas was expected to meet with US President George W. Bush in Washington on Wednesday. PA officials told The Jerusalem Post over the weekend that the US was unhappy with the agreement that was reached between Abbas and Haniyeh over the formation of a national unity government. They said Washington relayed its position to Abbas through the Saudi leadership and the US Consul-General in east Jerusalem. US opposition to the national unity government has prompted Abbas to postpone the dismissal of the Hamas-led government. Abbas was scheduled to fire Haniyeh's government last week to pave the way for the formation of a national unity government. However, sources close to Abbas said he was worried about the US opposition to the unity government. "The Americans are not enthusiastic about the Abbas-Haniyeh agreement because they believe the political program of the unity government is not clear enough," said one source. "They want a firm commitment that the unity government would honor all agreements signed with Israel." Hamas has made it clear that while it is prepared to "deal" with the agreements with Israel, it will never honor them. Hamas has also stressed that the unity government's program does not recognize Israel's right to exist. Abbas, on the other hand, argues that the program is based on the 2002 Arab peace plan that implicitly recognizes Israel. Abbas, who is expected to attend a special United Nations session later this week, is planning to meet with Bush and 15 other heads of state on the margins of the session. According to his aides, he will seek the backing of the international community for the national unity government and will reiterate the PA's readiness to resume negotiations with Israel on the basis of the road map plan for peace in the Middle East. Abbas said over the weekend that the unity government would be formed only after the release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and all the Hamas officials who are being held in Israel. Hamas officials said negotiations over the formation of the unity government could last three to four weeks. According to Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, Abbas and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni are to meet in New York next week on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Erekat said delegations led by Abbas and Livni would meet next week, but he wouldn't say when or what would be on the agenda.


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