Abbas, Mashaal, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Talks over the formation of a Palestinian unity government will remain suspended
until Hamas allows the Palestinian Central Elections Commission to operate in
the Gaza Strip, a Fatah leader in the West Bank said Wednesday.
Hamas agreed two weeks ago to delay the talks over the formation of a unity
government that would be headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas, as envisaged by the Qatari-brokered reconciliation agreement between the
Since then, the two sides have traded allegations over who
was responsible for the delay.
Fatah said that the decision to postpone
the talks was taken at the request of Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, who is facing
strong opposition within his movement over the pact.
Hamas, on the other
hand, said it was Abbas who requested the delay, citing Israel’s refusal to
permit Arab residents of Jerusalem to cast their ballots.
originally hoping to hold long overdue presidential and parliamentary elections
in May this year.
The proposed unity government’s main task was to
prepare for the elections and rebuild the Gaza Strip.
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leaders have come out against the reconciliation agreement signed by Abbas and
Mashaal in Doha last month, arguing that the Hamas leader did not consult with
them before signing the deal.
Jamal Muhaissen, a member of the Fatah
Central Committee, accused Hamas of preventing the Central Elections Commission
from registering some 250,000 voters in the Strip, a process which he said was
expected to last six weeks.
Muhaissen said that once the commission
completes its work, Abbas would issue a decree calling for new elections in line
with the agreement between the two parties.
Muhaissen denied claims by a
Hamas official that Abbas was scheduled to present a list with the names of the
new cabinet ministers in the unity government within two weeks.
official stressed that the talks over the formation of such a government would
remain on hold until Hamas allows the elections commission to start operating in
Muhaissen also denied as “baseless” Hamas charges that the PA
had prevented supporters of the Islamist movement in the West Bank from
registering with the commission.
In yet another sign of the deepening
crisis, senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed denied that the two organizations
had formed a joint team to facilitate the establishment of the new cabinet,
saying Fatah did not ask any of its Gaza Strip representatives to do
Ahmed said Hamas had asked to postpone the current Thursday deadline
and requested two weeks to make a final decision regarding the unity
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denied that his movement was
responsible for the current stalemate and said the entire issue was in the hands
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