(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, struggling to offer a comprise to win over international support for a new Palestinian power-sharing deal, said Monday he hoped the new coalition government would find a way to recognize Israel despite Hamas refusal to do so.
But Abbas's rival, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, reiterated his movement's position that the world should "respect" Hamas's stance and not set conditions on the new government.
The power-sharing deal reached in Mecca, Saudi Arabia earlier this month between Abbas and members of the militant Hamas movement skirts the key demands of the so-called Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators that any new government must give up violence, recognize Israel and accept existing agreements reached with Israel.
Western powers, led by the US and backed by Israel, have said they won't lift the international sanctions against the Palestinians unless the new government explicitly meets those demands. Hamas has refused to recognize Israel.
The power-sharing deal has stymied Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, since Israel has ruled out talks on a final peace deal with Abbas if he goes ahead with plans for a coalition with Hamas.
But Abbas said he hoped the Palestinian government would find a way to recognize the Jewish state even if Hamas continues to reject the demands.
"The groups or organizations that are sharing in the Palestinian government don't have to abide by the government's stance," Abbas told reporters after meeting with his Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo. "The government is a coalition of several different groups, therefore, the ministers participating in the government must abide by its stance but the parties they belong to do not."
Mashaal on Monday urged the world to cooperate with the Palestinian leadership following the power-sharing deal with Abbas' more moderate Fatah party and to pressure Israel to pursue peace talks. Mashaal, visiting Moscow, also called for the removal of an international aid embargo on the Palestinians and thanked Russia for its support on the issue.
"The international community has to respect our stance and not burden us with conditions," Mashaal said in Moscow in comments that were carried by the pan Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera TV. "The conditions should be directed to Israel, which is occupying the land, detains prisoners, soils our holy places and doesn't recognize the Palestinian rights."
Mashaal, who lives in exile in Syria, blamed Israel for the impasse on reviving the stalled peace process and urged the Quartet of Middle East mediators - the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union - to use its influence.
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