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Abbas, Mashaal, Qatars Emir Sheikh Hamad 390.(Photo by: REUTERS)
Abbas meets Hamas officials, seeks to speed unity
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
02/20/2012
PA president briefs Hamas representatives on reconciliation accord; Abbas tells China official Israel to blame for failed talks.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met in his office Monday with Hamas representatives in the West Bank and discussed with them efforts to form a Palestinian unity government.

The meeting came as Abbas prepared to hold talks in Cairo later this week on the same subject with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.

A PA official said that Abbas briefed the Hamas representatives on the recent Qatari-brokered reconciliation accord between his Fatah faction and Hamas.

Abbas affirmed the need to speed up efforts to achieve reconciliation between the two sides and reach agreement on the formation of a unity government, the official said.

The Qatari-brokered deal calls for the formation of a unity government that would be headed by Abbas to prepare for new presidential and parliamentary elections and rebuild the Gaza Strip.

Earlier this week, Abbas announced that the proposed unity government, which would be dominated by technocrats, would abide by his and the PLO’s political agenda and would honor all previous agreements signed with Israel.

However, Hamas denied that the new unity government would have a political agenda. Hamas officials said that although the government would be headed by Abbas, it would not deal with political issues such as peace talks with Israel. They also reiterated their opposition to all agreements signed between the PLO and Israel, including the Oslo Accords.

During Monday’s meeting in Ramallah, Abbas told the Hamas representatives that recent Israeli-Palestinian “exploratory” talks in Jordan failed because of Israel’s refusal to freeze settlement construction and accept the pre-1967 lines as the borders of a future Palestinian state.

Also Monday, Abbas told a top Chinese government official who arrived in Ramallah that Israeli “intransigence” was behind the failure of the peace process.

Abbas said that the Palestinians remained committed to the peace process on the basis of all UN resolutions pertaining to the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Abbas said that reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas was a top priority for the Palestinians, adding that he was determined to end the state of division among Palestinians.
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