Mixed reactions to Palestinian unity deal

2011-04-28 14:02

Ramallah - A surprise deal to end decades of rivalry between Fatah and Hamas was on Thursday welcomed by the Palestinian leadership, but denounced by Israel as crossing "a red line".

The agreement, announced in Cairo on Wednesday, saw the secular Fatah party which dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, and Gaza's Islamist rulers, agree to work together to form a transitional government ahead elections, which will take place within a year.

Wednesday's deal, which came after 18 months of fruitless talks, drew praise from Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who expressed the hope it would be "an essential and important step to proceed to the immediate establishment of national unity".

It was also hailed by Iran, which said it would "speed up developments in the Palestinian arena and the gaining of great victories" against Israel.

But it had the opposite reaction in Israel, where hawkish Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Defence Minister Ehud Barak both warned that the Jewish state would never accept a Hamas government.

"With this accord, a red line has been crossed," Lieberman told Israel's military radio on Thursday, threatening an array of retaliatory measures, while Barak said the army would "use an iron fist to deal with any threat" and vowed to "never negotiate with Hamas."

Government of independents

The agreement will see the two parties work together to form an interim government of independent politicians chosen by both sides which would operate until elections can be held, Fatah delegation chief Azzam al-Ahmad said by phone from Cairo.

He said the factions, which have been bitter enemies since the early 1990s, had agreed to set up a "government of independents".

"This government will be tasked with preparing for presidential and legislative elections within a year," he said.

And senior Hamas official Mahmud Zahar, who also attended the talks, told reporters in Cairo the transitional government would be made up of personalities selected by both sides.

Representatives of Hamas and Fatah would return to Cairo at the end of next week to sign the document, which also laid out terms for the release of political detainees by both sides, Zahar said.

He also confirmed that Fatah and Hamas had settled their differences over the security issue, which had bedevilled the last 18 months of negotiations which began after a failed attempt to ink a deal in October 2009.


Mussa Abu Marzuk, a top member of Hamas's exiled leadership in Damascus, told reporters the two parties would sign the deal on Wednesday next week, after which they would begin immediate consultations on forming the interim government.

Shortly after the deal was announced, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had issued Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with an ultimatum.

"Choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas," he said, warning a deal would pave the way for Gaza's Hamas to extend their control over the West Bank.

"There cannot be peace with both because Hamas strives to destroy the state of Israel and says so openly," he said in a statement, which was rudely dismissed by Abbas spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeina.

"In reaction to Netanyahu's remarks we say that Palestinian reconciliation ... is an internal Palestinian affair," he said. Netanyahu, for his part, "must choose between peace and settlements".

Washington welcomed the deal but said any new Palestinian government must "renounce violence, abide by past agreements and recognise Israel's right to exist", said National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor.

Welcomed by Palestinians

Hamas and Fatah were on the verge of agreeing the same Egyptian-mediated deal in October 2009 but the Islamists backed out, protesting the terms had been revised without its consent.

Tensions between the two movements date back to the start of limited Palestinian self-rule in the early 1990s when Fatah strongmen cracked down on Islamist activists.

They worsened in January 2006, when in a surprise general election rout, Hamas beat the previously dominant Fatah to grab more than half the seats in the Palestinian parliament.

Hamas expelled Fatah from Gaza after a week of deadly clashes in June 2007, cleaving the Palestinian territories into rival hostile camps.

Back home, Palestinians across the territories welcomed the deal which came just six weeks after tens of thousands of people had taken to the streets to demand the two rivals patch up their differences.

  • daaivark - 2011-04-28 14:06

    The usual belligerence from Israel. Oh well.

      ffaarg - 2011-04-28 14:38

      What should they do? Hamas's stated goal is the destruction of Israel.

      Valis - 2011-04-28 14:54

      @ffaarg: No it isn't. You're falling for American/Israeli propaganda again.

      patch - 2011-04-28 14:57

      What about Israel’s goal: "With this accord, a red line has been crossed," Lieberman told Israel's military radio on Thursday, threatening an array of retaliatory measures. What does that say about israhell. They clearly do not want peace.

      JT4 - 2011-04-28 15:03

      @ Valis, its not propaganda it is clearly stated on the Hamas website that the destruction of Israel is a key tenet of theirs. Perhaps it is you who is falling for proper propaganda

      Realist - 2011-04-28 15:06

      @JT4 How many websites do you come across that claim to be set up by one person but have been set up by another... Here's your spoon of propoganda porridge for today...see you again tomorrow...

      Observer - 2011-04-28 15:23

      @ Realist Errrr, so you're saying that the Hamas website wasn't set up by Hamas, but rather by rogue agents? Not quite following your thinking here - care to explain?

      JT4 - 2011-04-28 15:26

      @ Realist, your comments are devoid of any point whatsoever. the news you claim to be reading is no more accurate or truthful.

      Thangy - 2011-04-28 15:28

      A united Palestine! No wonder they are worried

  • virtualv - 2011-04-28 14:19

    its about time that they give the Israelis a run for their money..

      JT4 - 2011-04-28 15:29

      What does that even mean???

  • Krush - 2011-04-28 14:23

    Israel, don't back down. That land is yours.

      Souf Efrican - 2011-04-28 14:38

      Land that is stolen - shame on you!!

      MadMatt_88 - 2011-04-28 14:49

      The Jews have as much claim to the Palestinian lands as the Afrikaaners do to the Netherlands.

      Realist - 2011-04-28 15:01

      DOnt worry Krush, you dont back down either, some day you will get a brain that you can call yours...

      aaron - 2011-04-28 15:18

      isreal should be destoryed. It is a cancer of the middle east east. it is a racist state based on a ideolgy that believes that jews were given by God a chosen land for a chosen people. this is racist nonsense. God is not a real estate broker that have reseved land for racist people.

      infidel - 2011-04-28 15:29

      Dream on aaron.. support the killing machine dedicated to islam. Israel will never be defeated by muslim thugs. Is there any other religion that kills in the name of their God, and then has the audacity to say they are a peace loving nation. Yeah right!!!!

      Souf Efrican - 2011-04-28 15:48

      There these idiots go again and bring religion into it. They are cursed in the bible and will forever remain so. Gold is their god! This is a HUMANATARIAN issue you fool. Steal people's land and homes and throw them out to live in open air jails. That has nothing to do with religion!

      Zee - 2011-04-28 16:05

      @infidel - you know, not a single Muslim person here has said anything disrespectful, yet you come out and blanket all of them as thugs. Is that the best you can come up with? You are a bigot and a fool, a small-minded one too. And to answer your question, ALL religions have killed in the name of their religion. Crusades ring a bell? Many people here seriously need to read up a bit before they comment with crap.

      patch - 2011-04-28 16:16

      Well said Zee.

  • JT4 - 2011-04-28 14:36

    Hamas and Fatah deserve each other and the only eventual loser will be the palestinian people .. both of those groups make the ANC look like a pillar of honesty

  • ProfAndy - 2011-04-28 15:02

    Why doesn't Washington "renounce violence"? Such a bunch of hypocrites, the US and Israel. When it suits them, they have no qualms about butchering innocents...

      jaydon - 2011-04-28 15:52

      unlike when assads dady killed 40 000 people for a street protest in 1982....lots of renouncing happened then....kinda like today in syria? no?

  • Jack Dylan - 2011-04-28 15:09

    And of course none of the semi-literates attacking Israel here have ever actually been to Israel. Try it, although be warned: You risk seeing Arab muslim women being treated as legal human beings (this does not happen anywhere else in the Middle East), Circassian and Somali muslim refugees from racist Islamic states and a variety of political parties. If you're still not convinced, take your antisemitic goodwill to the palestinians, we know how well that worked out for that Italian guy last month...

  • Jack Dylan - 2011-04-28 15:13

    And of course none of the anti-Israel semi-literates commenting here have ever actually been to Israel. Give it a try, but be warned: you will have to put up with the sight of over a million Arab muslims with more rights than they would have in any islamic state, Arab women who are recognized as legally human (a regional rarity), Circassian and Somali muslim refugees from racist islamic states, and a multi-party democracy, the thing that leftists hate most of all. And, failing that, take your koranic goodwill to the Palestinians, we know how well that worked out for that hapless Italian guy last month...

      Jack Thomas - 2011-04-28 15:24

      Sorry for the repeat, I thought my comment had been blocked.

  • DeonL - 2011-04-28 15:48

    The more things change, the more it stays the same. Peace in Middle East might never happen.

  • pages:
  • 1