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Palestinian Reconciliation:

A Logical Step After Netanyahu's Indifference About Peace and US Capitulation to Israel

Fat'h, Hamas reach agreement on reconciliation

CAIRO, April 27 (Xinhua) --

Palestinian rivals Fat'h and Hamas on Wednesday signed a preliminary agreement on reconciliation during talks in Cairo, paving the way for forming an interim government to prepare for elections.

The Palestinian movements of Fatah and Hamas reached an agreement on all controversial issues including the elections and the formation of the interim government, Egypt's state MENA news agency quoted senior Egyptian officials as saying.

"We have agreed to form a government composed of independent figures that would start preparing for presidential and parliamentary elections," said Chairman of Fat'h parliamentary bloc Azzam al-Ahmed, adding elections will be held within one year.

The interim government will be responsible for the internal issues while the interim committee for Palestinian fractions will deal with foreign affairs, Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar told Nile TV.

"It is the time to gain the fruits of the negotiations and reach agreement between Fatah and Hamas," Moussa Abou Marzouq, deputy chairman of the political bureau of Hamas, said in a joint press conference of both parties' representatives.

"We have handled all the controversial remarks regarding the Egyptian proposal like the date of elections and the election committee, forming a government of independents, and resumption of the legislative council work," Marzouq added.

A source told Xinhua that Egypt will invite Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas chief Khaled Mesha'al and other Palestinian factions to Cairo within a week to sign the final agreement which aims at ending the political split between the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and the West Bank ruled by the Fatah-led PNA.

Al-Ahmed noted that there had been undeclared Egyptian efforts that helped the two sides reach the initial agreement.

Egypt has officially sponsored talks between the two factions who came to Egypt on Tuesday in a bid to unite all the Palestinian fractions.

Al-Ahmed stressed in the press conference that Israel exploited the division between both parties to avoid it's commitment regarding the peace agreements, and even the United States and the international community abandoned their duties towards the whole Palestine cause.

"The disunity among the Palestinians was the main reason for their weakness before the Israeli invasion, completing the segregate wall, judaizing Jerusalem and swallowing big part of the West Bank land," al-Ahmed said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the Palestinians to "choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas" after Fatah and Hamas reached the initial agreement.

While in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Netanyahu was rejected by the Palestinian leadership.

Netanyahu must choose between peace and the building of Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, said Nabil Abu Rudainah, spokesman for Abbas, referring to the construction which caused the U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians to collapse last year.

Editor: Mu Xuequan

Palestinian leadership rejects Israeli PM's threat

RAMALLAH, April 27 (Xinhua) --

The Palestinian leadership on Wednesday rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's threat which asked the Palestinians to choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas.

Netanyahu must choose between peace and the building of illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, said Nabil Abu Rudainah, spokesman for Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas, referring to the construction which caused the U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians to collapse last year.

Netanyahu's remarks came after Abbas' Fatah party and Hamas reached an initial agreement on reconciliation during talks Wednesday in Cairo.

A source told Xinhua that Egypt will invite Abbas, Hamas chief Khaled Mesha'al and other Palestinian factions to Cairo within a week to sign the final agreement which aimed at ending the political split between the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and the West Bank ruled by the Fatah-led PNA.

Abu Rudainah said the formation of a unity government to prepare for elections "is an internal affair," noting that Hamas will not have any responsibility on the determination of the peace process with Israel, because this issue is exclusive to Abbas and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Editor: Mu Xuequan

Palestinian reconciliation victory for Hamas: Israeli analysts

by Khaled Khalefe

JERUSALEM, April 28, 2011 (Xinhua) --

In a surprise and unexpected move, rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah headed by Palestinian National Authority (PNA) President Mahmoud Abbas signed a dramatic reconciliation mediated by the new Egyptian government.

The agreement created a time table for an interim Palestinian government which will be responsible for preparing legislative and presidential election. This transitional government will include independent figures with the duty of building Palestinian institutions.

The two Palestinian groups have reached an initial agreement which will be signed next week in Cairo by Abbas and senior Hamas official.

This upcoming ceremony will end a four-year rift that has left the two factions divided between the rival governments in Gaza and Ramallah. Fatah and Hamas have been feuding after the 2006 legislative elections when Hamas won the popular Palestinian vote.

In a press conference with local media, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly rejected PNA's move toward Hamas. He demanded that the PNA should choose between peace with Israel and unity with Hamas.

While not optimistic about the prospect of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, local analysts see the reconciliation of the Palestinian factions as a victory for Hamas.


Ron Ben-Yishai, a columnist for local daily Yediot Ahronoth, told Xinhua that he expects bad news from this reconciliation.

He argued that the move will benefit both Fatah and Hamas, saying Abbas will get a "renewed legitimacy," a step that will push him further to go to the United Nations in September to get support for statehood.

As for Hamas, Ben-Yishai pointed out that the Islamic movement will get further legitimacy in the international system, and Egypt may loosen the blockade against the Gaza Strip. That will be a great victory for the Hamas movement, he said.

However, the reconciliation deal doesn't necessarily solve the U.S. government's dilemma over how to advance the long stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process, according to Dr. Yossi Amitay, a senior lecturer on Middle East studies from the Ben Gurion University.

He pointed out that the latest development should not take U.S. policy by surprise. An alliance among the Palestinians was bound to happen sooner or later in the absence of a peace negotiation.

Dr. Amitay added that Netanyahu will use any excuse for not conducting negotiations with a unified Palestinian government that includes Hamas.


In his latest interview with the American magazine Newsweek, Abbas slammed the vulnerability and the impotence of U.S. President Barack Obama's administration in pushing forward Israeli- Palestinian talks.

On Feb. 17, Obama spoke on the phone with Abbas for 55 minutes and strongly pressed him to withdraw the resolution in the United Nations Security Council against Israel, which demanded that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.

It is reported that the American president told Abbas that the resolution will threaten the 475-million-U.S. dollar assistance to the PNA.

Some analysts view that telephone call as a critical element in Abbas' move towards reconciliation with Hamas.

Israel's former national security adviser Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland told Xinhua that Israel will re-evaluate its policy towards Abbas after the reconciliation deal.

He argued that Abbas cannot strike a deal with Israel before recognizing the Jewish state and abandoning Palestinian refugees' rights of return.

Therefore, Abbas decided to go to the UN even without the Americans' support. "This depends not on Hamas, but on Abbas' policy towards Israel," said Eiland.

Editor: Mu Xuequan

Skepticism still engulfs sudden Palestinian agreement

by Fares Akram, Emad Drimly

RAMALLAH, April 28, 2011 (Xinhua) --

Skepticism on how strong an interim agreement between Palestinian rivals is going to hold remains high despite the first tangible progress Fatah and Hamas made on restoring unity and end schism.

On Wednesday, representatives of Hamas and Fatah, the two rival Palestinian factions, announced from Cairo an initial agreement on forming a technocratic government to prepare for elections.

Presidency, parliamentary elections will take place within one year after signing the final agreement next week in Cairo. In parallel, there will also be elections for the Palestinian National Council, which acts as the parliament of Palestine Liberation Organizations (PLO).

The agreement enjoyed support from all Palestinian factions and groups that believed it would end the split, started when Hamas routed forces of President Mahmoud Abbas, ousted his Fatah party and took over Gaza by force in June 2007.

Many people and observers believed that upheaval across the Arab world played direct, indirect but significant role in bringing out the agreement suddenly.

Khalil Shaheen, a Palestinian political analyst, said that the revolt in Egypt, the historical mediator between Hamas and Fatah, brought a new regime that succeeded to arrange meetings that resulted in Wednesday's declaration.

"The Egyptian leadership used the positive atmosphere after the revolution and the Palestinian desire to end the split and exerted efforts away from the media," Shaheen said.

In 2009, Egypt suspended its efforts when Hamas raised several reservations on Cairo's proposal for ending the Palestinian rift. Fatah had signed the Egyptian plan at the time.

The "new Egypt" has enjoyed Hamas' confidence this time and that's why it succeeded in brokering the agreement, which is still initial and the final deal is likely to be signed in Cairo next week.

"The estimations that Egypt was busy in its internal affairs were wrong," said Hani Al-Massri, director of the Alternatives Research Center in the West Bank "It is clear that Egypt sticks to its cards of power, especially those of the Palestinian file."

Fatah dominates the Palestinian National Authority, which has been confined to the West Bank since 2007. In September, the Palestinian leadership is going to the United Nations, seeking recognition of state, given stillness in peace talks with Israel.

"The Palestinian leadership found out that it is impossible to go to the UN without a united political vision," Shaheen, the analyst explained. The quick breakdown the latest U.S.-brokered round of negotiations last year also encouraged Fatah to get closer to Hamas.

The new agreement envisions solution to five issues that had blocked previous attempts and initiatives to restore the political unity between Gaza and the West Bank.

These issues include a date for elections, the committee that will oversee the polls, the formation of a unity government, resuming talk on reforming the PLO and security issues.

The presidency and legislative elections would be simultaneous and they will form a committee to oversee the polling.

As for the unity government, the two movements agreed that it should comprise technocrats and that Hamas and Fatah agree on the prime minister. The government will prepare for the elections, release political prisoners in Gaza and the West Bank and sponsor social reconciliation with families that lost some of their members in the fighting.

A key Hamas' demand regarding the PLO has been met at the agreement. There would be an interim committee leading the organization until it is reformed. The decisions by that committee cannot be disabled.

Security, which has been the thorniest issue, remains unsettled yet, though the two movements agreed to form a committee to resolve it.

But Abdul-Magid Swilem, an analyst, said the signing of the memorandum of understanding of reconciliation may demonstrate tactics rather than true sincerity in reconciliation.

He noted that the upheavals, failure of peace talks with Israel and increasing Palestinian public pressure were factors that forced Hamas and Fatah to declare the initial agreement. Swilem also said that the lack of guarantees makes the agreement vulnerable

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