PA: US, Israel won't stop Palestinian reconciliation

Sha'ath: PA won't succumb to "financial or moral extortion regardless of its size"; Abbas meets Clinton deputy, Burns.

Abbas R 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Abbas R 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli and American opposition won’t stop the Palestinian Authority from proceeding with its plans to achieve reconciliation with Hamas, PA officials said on Sunday.
The officials told The Jerusalem Post the US and Israel were trying to foil the plans to end the dispute between Fatah and Hamas and reach agreement on the formation of a new unity government.
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The officials were speaking shortly before PA President Mahmoud Abbas met in Ramallah with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.
Abbas told the visiting US official that the issue of reconciliation with Hamas was a Palestinian interest, the official said.
The officials denied that Burns had come to Ramallah to warn Abbas against going ahead with his plans to form a unity government with Hamas.
Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal are expected to meet later this week in Cairo in yet another attempt to implement the Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation accord that was announced last May.
The summit will focus on the formation of a caretaker government that would prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections.
Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat also said the reconciliation was a Palestinian interest. Israeli and American pressure to thwart the reconciliation efforts were doomed to failure, he said.
Nabil Sha’ath, a member of the Fatah central committee, said the PA leadership would not succumb to any “financial or morale extortion regardless of its size.
“Nothing will stop us from achieving our national unity, including threats to cut off financial aid,” he said.
Azzam al-Ahmed, head of the Fatah delegation that has been negotiating with Hamas about ways to implement the reconciliation accord, said the two sides still hadn’t reached an agreement over who would head the proposed unity government.
He was responding to unconfirmed reports suggesting that Hamas and Fatah had agreed to exclude current PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad from the next government.
Hamas remains strongly opposed to sitting in any government that is headed by Fayyad.
Hamas officials have accused Fayyad of being responsible for the security crackdown on the movement’s supporters in the West Bank.
“It’s premature to talk about names of candidates for the premiership,” Ahmed told the PA’s Voice of Palestine radio station.
“Hamas has reaffirmed its opposition to Fayyad and is hoping that Fatah will reconsider its position toward him.”
Fatah has insisted that any new government should be headed by Fayyad. But in recent weeks some Fatah officials have hinted that they are no longer insisting on having him in the unity government.
Last week, Fayyad said he was prepared to step down to facilitate the reconciliation process between Fatah and Hamas.
Ahead of the Abbas- Mashaal summit, representatives of Fatah and Hamas held a series of secret meetings in the Egyptian capital in a bid to overcome all obstacles hindering the implementation of the reconciliation deal.