Palestinians move toward reconciliation

2012-02-06 17:39

kalahari.com

  • Palestine
    The traumas and tragedies of historic Palestine are impacting every twist and turn in the countdown... Now R209.00
    buy now
Ramallah - The main Palestinian political rivals on Monday took a major step toward healing their bitter rift, agreeing that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would head an interim unity government to prepare for general elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Abbas and Khaled Mashaal, head of the Islamic militant Hamas, said they would move forward without delay, though it appears unlikely elections can be held in May, as initially envisioned.

Monday's agreement, brokered by Qatar, seemed to bring reconciliation within reach for the first time since the rivals established separate governments, following Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza in 2007.

Previous deals have collapsed amid deep suspicions and intervention by the sides' rival foreign patrons. Abbas is backed by the West while Hamas has been supported by Iran.

Abbas and Mashaal had reached a reconciliation deal last year, but disagreement over who was to head an interim government had delayed implementation. Hamas strongly opposed Abbas' choice of Salam Fayyad, the head of his Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

It remains unclear whether an Abbas-led interim government that is supported by Hamas would be acceptable to the West, which gives hundreds of millions of dollars of aid to the Palestinians each year.

International backing

The United States, Europe and Israel consider Hamas a terror organisation, and said they would shun any government that includes members of an unreformed Hamas.

Abbas has international backing and Monday's agreement said all Cabinet ministers would be politically independent technocrats. Fayyad, who would have to step down if a transitional government is formed, said he welcomed the agreement. It was not announced when the caretaker government would take office.

Monday's breakthrough came after two days of meetings between Abbas and Mashaal, hosted by Qatar's emir, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. The two Palestinian leaders signed the agreement in a small ceremony at the emir's diwan, or meeting hall, in Doha.

"We promise our people to implement this agreement as soon as possible," Abbas said after the signing.

"We inform our people that we are serious about healing the wounds ... to reunite our people on the foundation of a political partnership, in order to devote our effort to resisting the [Israeli] occupation," added Mashaal.

The agreement also calls for rebuilding Gaza, which has been largely cut off from the world as part of an Israeli-Egyptian border blockade, imposed after the Hamas takeover in 2007.

Historical rights

The blockade was eased in the past year, but not enough to revive the Gazan economy, including the vital construction industry, and many large-scale projects remain on hold.

The Qatari leader urged the Arab world to stand behind the Palestinians' "historical rights", in an apparent reference for full statehood and return of lands occupied by Israel in the 1967 war.

The Arab world may have to step in if the West refuses to work with an Abbas-led interim government. The Palestinian Authority currently receives about $1bn a year for its budget in foreign aid, and that money could be halted if the international community deems a new Palestinian government unacceptable.

With the Palestinians moving toward unity, the fate of low-level border talks with Israel also remains uncertain.

Abbas has said that the talks have run their course, as far as he is concerned, and that he would only resume them if Israel made a better offer on where to draw the border with a Palestinian state.

It is not clear whether Israel would negotiate with Abbas as head of a Palestinian unity government. Israeli officials had no immediate comment on Monday.

Abbas and Hamas have had bitter ideological differences, with Abbas pursuing a deal with Israel on the terms of Palestinian statehood and the violently anti-Israel Hamas dismissing such talks as a waste of time.

Difference of opinion

In recent months, those differences seem to have narrowed. Abbas has lost faith in reaching a deal, at least with the current hardline Israeli government, while Mashaal has been prodding Hamas toward a more pragmatic stance that is closer to that of the group's parent movement, the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood.

However, Mashaal represents Hamas in exile and appears to have had differences with the movement's local leadership in Gaza.

Some of the Gaza leaders have resisted his push for reconciliation with Abbas and moving closer to the Brotherhood, Hamas officials have said privately. Still, Hamas' prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, welcomed the Doha deal, and a delegation from Gaza was present during Monday's signing.

Analysts said they believed this deal stood a chance where others had failed.

"There are several indications that this agreement is a serious one, and can be implemented," said Majid Sweilim, a political analyst in the West Bank. "The president at the helm of the government means it will be accepted by the West. The Qatari sponsorship means it's accepted by the West and will be funded by this wealthy Gulf state," he said.

"President Abbas is very interested in ending the split, particularly with the failure of the peace talks, and Khaled Mashaal is getting closer to the PLO position, in harmony with the changes of the Muslim Brotherhoods in the region," Sweilim added.

- AP
Read more on:    mahmoud abbas  |  palestine  |  middle east peace
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Oscar Pistorius
 

6 impressive camping tips

Check out these great tips that will make your camping experience so much better!

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Free outdoor yoga classes
Watch: 5 skills to improve your BMX riding
Action camera for all occasions
Tips on how to set your fitness goals

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a strong social and romantic overtone that plays its way into your day. It may get stronger later in the day when the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.