PA leader Abbas, Hamas's Mashaal to meet in Qatar for Palestinian unity talks

Palestinian sources predict "national consensus government" to be announced within two weeks.

Mashaal with Abbas 311 R (photo credit: Reuters)
Mashaal with Abbas 311 R
(photo credit: Reuters)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal are expected to meet in Doha, Qatar, on Monday to discuss the implementation of the recent reconciliation agreement between the two parties.
Palestinian sources said that the talks would focus on the formation of a Palestinian “national consensus government” that would include representatives of various Palestinian factions. The sources predicted that the new government would be announced within two weeks.
The sources said that Abbas was traveling to Qatar to attend the wedding of one of his nephews and that Mashaal was one of hundreds of Palestinian and Arab figures invited to the event.
Fatah leader Azzam al-Ahmed was also scheduled to head to the Gaza Strip later this week for talks on the formation of the new government, which would be headed by Abbas and whose task would be to prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections.
Al-Ahmed is expected to hold talks with top Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzouk and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, as well as representatives of other Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip. Al-Ahmed headed the PLO delegation that signed the April 23 “reconciliation” pact with Hamas. The agreement calls for the formation of a Palestinian government within five weeks.
Hamas said last week that it has nominated some candidates to serve as ministers in the new government. According to the agreement, the government would serve for six months, after which Palestinians would head to the ballot boxes to elect a new president and parliament.
Meanwhile, a Hamas official announced that preparations were under way to incorporate 3,000 PA security personnel into the Hamas-controlled security forces in the Gaza Strip. Abdel Salam Siam, secretary- general of the Hamas government, said that the PA policemen and security officers would become part of the Gaza security establishment.
Thousands of PA security personnel were left without work after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007. Most of them are affiliated with Abbas’s Fatah faction.
As the Palestinians were working to implement their unity agreement, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who was Israel’s chief negotiator over the last eight months, told Israel Radio that the actions the Palestinians took toward the end of the negotiations were “not encouraging.”
She referred specifically to their decision to apply for membership in 15 UN covenants and treaties, saying that they seem to prefer seeking support in the international arena which may even “swallow linking up with a terrorist organization like Hamas.”
She said this runs contrary to negotiations and the interest of both sides, saying that even if the Palestinians “get support for the word ‘state,’ that does not give them a state.”
While acknowledging that the talks were “suspended,” she said, “they [the Palestinians] are here, we are here, we want to separate, get an agreement, end the conflict, and ensure our security.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, meanwhile, said that the talks failed, but that he never “deluded himself” into believing that it would be possible to reach an agreement in nine months.
“It is possible to prove factually to anyone with eyes in their head that what is at the heart of the conflict is the unwillingness of the other side, the Palestinians, to recognize us as the national home of the Jewish people within any borders,” he told Israel Radio.
If the Palestinians continue to be unable to reconcile themselves with that idea, he said – adding that he doubts they would do so “anytime soon” – then Israel will “need to continue managing the conflict, and will apparently not be able to solve it now.”