Fatah, Hamas start talks on new gov't in Cairo

Palestinian officials in Ramallah say Abbas trying to persuade Hamas to accept PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as head of unity government.

Haniyeh  and Abbas 521 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Haniyeh and Abbas 521
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Fatah and Hamas representatives launched talks in Cairo on Monday to discuss ways of implementing the reconciliation agreement, which they signed earlier this month.
The Fatah delegation is headed by Azzam al- Ahmed, while the Hamas team is led by Musa Abu Marzouk.
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Al-Ahmed said before the meeting that the talks would focus on the establishment of a unity government. He added that the two sides were also planning to discuss Hamas’s request to join the Palestine National Council, the PLO’s parliament-in-exile.
The Fatah official denied reports that claimed that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would also serve as prime minister of a new unity government consisting mostly of independent technocrats. The reports also claimed that Abbas would have two deputies – one in the West Bank and another in the Gaza Strip.
But al-Ahmed said that this idea was in violation of the reconciliation accord between Hamas and Fatah, which calls for the establishment of a government of independent technocrats.
Palestinian officials in Ramallah said that Abbas is now trying to persuade Hamas to accept PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as head of the unity government.
PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yousef said that most Palestinian factions have agreed to the appointment of Fayyad as prime minister of the unity government.
“There is agreement amongst most factions that Fayyad is the most suitable candidate under the current circumstances,” he said. “Asking Fayyad to head the new government would foil Binyamin Netanyahu’s efforts to delegitimize the unity government.”
Mahmoud Aloul, member of the Fatah Central Committee, said he did not believe that political differences with Hamas would lead to the collapse of the reconciliation agreement.
Aloul was quoted by the London-based Asharq Al- Awsat newspaper as saying that the political gap between Hamas and Fatah has been narrowed to a large degree in wake of the PA’s decision to suspend peace talks with Israel.
Hamas legislator Salah Bardaweel said that the Cairo talks would cover five issues: the unity government, security, reconciliation, elections and restructuring the PLO.
Bardaweel denied that Hamas has agreed to the appointment of Fayyad as head of the proposed unity government.
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar, meanwhile, contradicted Abbas’s statement that the unity government would abide by the PLO’s political program.
“The new government is not the government of President Mahmoud Abbas,” Zahar explained. “It won’t abide by his political program. It would be a national unity government.”
Zahar said that Hamas won’t agree to be “hostage” to Abbas’s or Fatah’s political agenda.
“If Abbas’s political agenda fails, he must leave the arena to someone who would come after him and present a new program,” Zahar told the daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi.
“The talk that the new government would be Abbas’s government, and that it would carry his political program, contradicts the reconciliation agreement. This won’t be Abbas’s government because his government is the one headed by Salam Fayyad.