'Choice of Abbas as interim PM unacceptable'

Senior Hamas official says Mashaal did not consult with group's leadership before signing deal with Abbas.

Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar_311 (photo credit: Reuters)
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar_311
(photo credit: Reuters)
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar attacked the Qatari-sponsored Fatah-Hamas unity deal, saying the decision to appoint Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as interim prime minister of the reconciliation government is "completely unacceptable."
Speaking in an interview with Egyptian daily Asharq al Awsat published on Saturday, Zahar claimed that Hamas's political chief Khaled Mashaal did not consult him or other members of the Gaza leadership before signing the agreement with Abbas last week.
The deal has faced criticism from Hamas's Gaza leadership, bringing divisions within the group to the surface.
Hamas's "Change and Reform" Gaza parliamentary bloc came out Wednesday against the clause in the pact under which Abbas would serve both as president and prime minister of a future Palestinian Authority government.
The legislative bloc includes Hamas's top Gaza-based leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Zahar. They did not attend the ceremony in Qatar where Mashaal and Abbas signed the agreement on Monday.
Analysts have long spoken of a split within Hamas between those who have controlled the blockaded Gaza Strip for the past five years and Mashaal, who had made his base in Damascus.
"We call upon the parties who signed and those who sponsored Palestinian reconciliation to reconsider and ... not to bypass Palestinian law," the parliamentary bloc said in a statement, arguing that a dual presidential-prime ministerial role for Abbas would be illegal.
The deal was aimed at reuniting the deeply split Palestinian national movement after past accords that followed Hamas's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007 failed to get off the ground over disagreements over who would head a new government.
Hamas, a terrorist organization, is shunned by the West over its refusal to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept existing Israeli-Palestinian interim peace accords. A unity government seems likely to stop long-faltering peace efforts in their tracks.
Reuters contributed to this report.