Abbas to Speed Up Reconciliation With Hamas

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Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas vowed Wednesday to speed up reconciliation between his Fatah faction and Hamas.

Abbas, speaking at a memorial event for late PLO leader and arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat, said he would meet Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal in Cairo later this month.

The two leaders are expected to address the reconciliation deal signed by their factions in May hoping to end years of often violent feuding after Hamas broke its coalition with Fatah in 2007 and violently seized Gaza.

“In order to expedite the implementation of the reconciliation, we will continue to make every effort to speed up the resolution of the remaining issues,” Abbas said.

“First among them — the presidential and legislative elections, as well as those for the Palestinian National Council, and the formation of a government of independents to oversee the elections,” he clarified.

The unity deal called for the quick formation of a consensus government of independents that would pave the way for elections within a year.

But the agreement has yet to be implemented, with the two sides unable to agree on the composition of the interim government or who should lead it.

Front and center in that debate is PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who Hamas says is “too cooperative” with Israel and the US.

But Fayyad said Monday he refused to be “used as a pretext” to avoid unity and called on the factions to select a replacement for him.

Observers say Hamas’ real reasons for refusing to enter a unity government with Fatah are worries over the deep fiscal crisis in Ramallah, rampant corruption in the PA, and opposition to the now moribund bilateral track with Israel.

Earlier this year, Mashaal went so far as to say “governance is bad for the resistance” indicating Hamas had reservations about its move into the political arena.

Regional analysts say a unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas – which would likely include Hamas’ induction into the PLO – would likely hail a takeover by the Islamist faction in PA enclaves in Judea and Samaria.

Hamas has been ascendant over Fatah in the wake of its successful brokering of a deal to free 1,027 terrorists in exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit – and Abbas’ failed statehood bid at the United Nations.

On Tuesday, Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad said that both parties had reached agreement on several key issues of the reconciliation deal.

Abbas pledged: “Achieving reconciliation is the desire of all our people… and I promise you all that we will do what we can to accomplish the reconciliation.”


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