'No political differences between Fatah, Hamas'

Palestinian Authority president says the two parties have reached agreement on joint political platform, truce with Israel.

Abbas, Mashaal, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Abbas, Mashaal, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
There are no differences between Fatah and Hamas because the two parties have reached agreement on a joint political platform and a truce with Israel, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday.
“We agreed that the period of calm would be not only in the Gaza Strip, but also in the West Bank,” Abbas said in an interview with Al-Jazeera.
“We also agreed on a peaceful popular resistance [against Israel], the establishment of a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders and that the peace talks would continue if Israel halted settlement construction and accepted our conditions.”
Abbas said that there are no real “political differences” between Fatah and Hamas.
He said the recent decision to postpone the formation of a Palestinian unity government, as envisaged by last month’s Qatari-brokered reconciliation deal, was taken due to a dispute within Hamas.
“We took the decision at the request of [Hamas leader] Khaled Mashaal, who said that this was not the appropriate time to talk about a unity government because of the dispute [within Hamas],” Abbas said. “I still don’t know what is going on inside Hamas.”
Abbas said he agreed to head a unity government because he was hoping to solve a problem and not because he wanted the job.
“I agreed with Mashaal on the issue of the prime minister, who backed the idea,” he added. “I agreed to serve as prime minister because it was supposed to be a transitional government dominated by technocrats whose mission would be to prepare for new elections and rebuild the Gaza Strip.”
Abbas said that neither he nor Mashaal expected his nomination to create controversy within Hamas.
“But if this is going to create a problem, I have no problem backtracking,” he said. “I have no problem backtracking and I'm not insisting on it,” he explained. “I’m the president and I’m not lacking in new positions.”
The PA president reiterated his intention not to seek reelection when and if new presidential elections are held in the Palestinian territories.
Abbas said that although he was “depressed because we are losing Jerusalem and the Aksa Mosque,” he still was hopeful about the prospects of reaching a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He pointed out that 132 countries have recognized a Palestinian state, while another 107 supported Palestinian membership in UNESCO.
“It’s true that we are losing time and that Israel is winning time for building settlements,” Abbas said.
“But in the end there is no other path. We say to Israel: Whether you build or don’t build, the settlements are originally illegitimate.”