Khaled Mashaal in Cairo after reconcilliation agreement_311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
On the eve of the longawaited summit between Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Cairo, the Islamist movement
said its position toward Israel would not change after the formation of a
Palestinian unity government.
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Hamas also reiterated its opposition to the
appointment of current PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as head of the proposed
Abbas and Mashaal were scheduled to hold talks in the
Egyptian capital on Thursday on ways of implementing the reconciliation accord
that was reached between Hamas and Fatah last May.
“Hamas will not change
its position toward Israel, which will remain our enemy,” Hamas legislator Salah
Bardaweel said. “Hamas won’t recognize Israel and won’t give up its
If it doesn’t, however, and a unity government is formed,
this will run the risk of endangering EU cooperation with the PA.
Gatt-Rutter, the acting EU representative to the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and
UNRWA, said at an EU press briefing in Jerusalem that Brussels was sending
messages to the PA that it would only continue its cooperation with a
Hamas-Fatah unity government if Hamas moderated it positions on Israel. He said
the cooperation he was referring to was both political and economic.
Ambassador Andrew Standley said the EU’s longstanding position that it would not
engage with Hamas until it recognized Israel, abandoned terrorism and accepted
previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements has not changed.
Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, voiced skepticism about the
possibility of achieving a breakthrough during the Abbas-Mashaal
Zahar said the summit would be nothing but a “protocol meeting”
that would not last long. The summit would be followed by a dialogue between
Fatah and Hamas over all the issues mentioned in the Egyptian-brokered reconciliation accord,
first and foremost the formation of a unity government, the future of the PLO,
security-related issues and holding PA presidential and parliamentary elections,
Without guarantees for the implementation of the reconciliation
accord, the “entire reconciliation process between Fatah and Hamas would fail,”
Zahar said. He said Abbas decided to renew his efforts to achieve reconciliation
with Hamas “only after all doors were closed in front of him” – a reference to
the PA’s failed statehood bid at the UN Security Council.
wants guarantees the next elections will be free and fair, the Hamas official
said. “Judging from my experience with Abbas, it would be a mistake to be
optimistic,” Zahar said.
He reiterated Hamas’s opposition to a unity
government headed by Fayyad and stressed the identity of the next prime minister
would be discussed between Abbas and Mashaal.
Zahar was quoted by the
London-based Al-Hayat newspaper as warning that Israel would try to thwart the
reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas.
The Egyptian newspaper
on Wednesday quoted PA officials as saying Abbas was continuing to
insist Fayyad head any new government.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail
Haniyeh, on the other hand, expressed cautious optimism about Thursday’s summit
in Cairo. He said the chances of achieving unity were higher in wake of the Arab
Spring, the collapse of the peace negotiations between the PA and Israel, and
the US administration’s failure to fulfill its pledges to the PA.
EU’s Gatt-Rutter, meanwhile, also expressed doubts a Fatah-Hamas rapprochement
would emerge from the scheduled Cairo meeting.
“I think there is a lot of
hype about this meeting, simply because it is taking place,” he said. “I
personally have very low expectations, and I believe there is a very low
probability the meeting will lead to an agreement on a new government.
think the parties are too far apart and are not ready to overcome the obstacles
needed to reach an agreement. I wouldn’t expect much
Gatt-Rutter also said the more progress there was in the
diplomatic process with the Palestinians, the less interest there would be in