Palestinian Factions Hamas, Fatah Reach Unity Deal

By Cnn, Kevin Flower | St. Joseph News-Press, February 6, 2012 | Go to article overview

Palestinian Factions Hamas, Fatah Reach Unity Deal


Cnn, Kevin Flower, St. Joseph News-Press


JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Rival Palestinian political factions Fatah and Hamas named President Mahmoud Abbas the head of an interim unity government during a televised signing ceremony Monday.

The deal was signed in Doha, Qatar, by Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who said last month he plans to step down from his post.

"The Palestinian reconciliation is no longer a Palestinian interest but also an Arab interest," Abbas said.

"Both parties are serious in moving forward to fold the page of strife between both parties and to strengthen the Palestinian national unity government," according to Meshaal.

Independent Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti said the agreement represents progress.

"What we see is a slow movement, and we hope that this meeting will give a push to reconciliation to go faster," he said. "I hope that the most important thing that this agreement will lead to is actual activation of (a) real democratic system and that all obstacles that are still in the way of election will be removed."

Prime Minister Salam Fayyad expressed hope that a government headed by Abbas will be formed quickly and hold elections, "which would consequently end the internal division."

"The prime minister said this achievement is a response to our people's aspirations and ambition to reunify the homeland and its institutions," a statement from the Palestinian Cabinet said. "This is an imminent national necessity in addition to being a cornerstone in utilizing our people's capabilities to guarantee ending the occupation and continuing our national readiness for the establishment of the independent State of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital on 1967 borders."

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO executive committee, said, "The international community has persistently used this division against us, particularly the U.S., when it described the Palestinians as not qualified for statehood because we are divided, so this would remove one pretext."

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented the agreement in a very different light.

"Hamas is a terrorist organization that strives to destroy Israel, and which is supported by Iran," Netanyahu said Monday at a meeting of the Likud party in the Knesset, Israel's parliament. "Hamas and peace do not go together.

"Over the past few weeks, Israel and elements in the international community have made great efforts to advance the peace process." If Abbas implements the deal signed in Doha, Netanyahu said, "he will have chosen to abandon the way of peace and to join with Hamas, without Hamas having accepted the minimal conditions of the international community. Not only does Hamas not recognize Israel and the (previously signed) agreements, it has not abandoned terrorism. It is continuing with terrorism and to arm itself in order to perpetrate even deadlier terrorism."

Netanyahu added a message to Abbas: "It is either peace with Hamas or peace with Israel; you cannot have it both ways."

The deal comes amid increased pressure from various Arab countries and Turkey for Hamas to distance itself from the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. …

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