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Abbas and Mesha'al Sign Palestinian Unity Agreement in Cairo

April 4, 2011

Palestinian Unity Announced in Cairo

Published today (updated) 04/05/2011 16:38

 CAIRO (Ma'an) --

In a recorded broadcast which aired one hour after a unity announcement was made in Cairo, leaders of Fat'h and Hamas both welcomed a Palestinian reconciliation they said would pave the way toward statehood.

An initial delay in the presentation was said to be on account of Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Mesha'al's insistence on delivering a speech, and expressing anger over being seated in the audience of the event, rather than on the central plinth where Fat'h leader Mahmoud Abbas sat next to Egyptian officials.

In addition to being Fat'h's chairman, Abbas is also Palestinian president and leader of the PLO. His title as leader of the Palestinian people was given as a justification for his being the only address, sources said.

Both men ultimately presented addresses to the audience, made up of the leaders of 14 Palestinian political factions as well as Palestinian religious officials.

"We fold forever the dark page of division," Abbas began his address, words echoed by Mesha'al moments later in his own speech.

He said a government of "independent figures" would "soon see the light."

Abbas reaffirmed that the new government would renounce violence, but underscored his continued support for popular resistance activities against Israel's continued military and settler presence in the West Bank.

"The people are leading a struggle that is recognized by the world ... the people struggle against occupation, settler oppression, [and the] ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem," he said, labeling Israel's occupation of Palestinian areas as  "state terrorism."

Mesha'al, whose address was brief, praised the efforts of Egypt, and said he supported "elections at first possible moment," but said that in order for the vote to be genuine, "first we must establish a real and normal atmosphere on the ground."

Abbas elaborated on his vision for the establishment of a unified Palestinian people, saying "there will be one authority, one gun; [but we will be an] authority committed to non-violence."

The ceremony was closed to the media, Abbas said, because of its location in the Egyptian intelligence headquarters, with tapes of the event later released to satellite channels.

"Israeli threats"

Abbas gave extensive comment on recent threats by Israeli officials to lobby against the unity government, as well as the Israeli government decision to withhold tax revenues from the Palestinian Authority.

"If they keep blackmailing us, we'll make September nearer," he said, referring to the PA's stated intention to head to the UN in September asking that the international body recognize a Palestinian state in the pre-1967 borders, on land recognized as the West Bank -- including Jerusalem -- and the Gaza Strip.

"Israel used division as pretext to stall a peace deal. Now they object to unity. That's unacceptable, its illegitimate," he said.

The Palestinian president said the Israeli premier must now "choose between (building) settlements and peace," and accused Israel of opposing the Palestinian reconciliation accord as "a pretext to avoid peace negotiations."

Abbas criticized Israeli ministers demanding an end to the unity deal, saying it was Israel that had to do serious thinking over who they would talk to. "Hamas is part of the people," Abbas said, saying that if he could talk to Israel in the interests of the Palestinian people, he would also speak with Hamas, all in the view to realizing Palestinian statehood.

"The occupation shall end, a Palestinian state shall be born this year," he said.

Commenting on reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will present a peace settlement to American officials during his visit to Washington in May, Abbas said Palestinians would refuse a deal with "temporary borders," and added that "we won't accept the existence of any Israeli soldier on Palestinian lands … if there's an independent state, Israel shall not exist in it."

He also said that Palestinians will not "drop the right of return," noting that he himself was a refugee.

As an alternative to any settlement Netanyahu might propose, Abbas said Palestinians were "committed to Arab peace initiative, to international legitimacy. Our national rights are inalienable."

Celebrations greet unity announcement

Palestinians gathered in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip to celebrate the long-awaited agreement to put an end to rival administrations in the West Bank and Gaza, and restore the unity shattered by deadly fighting in June 2007.

The reconciliation agreement provides for the formation of an interim government of independents to lay the groundwork for presidential and parliamentary elections within a year.

Negotiations on the new government line-up were due to start straight after Wednesday's ceremony, with reports saying Abbas and Mesha'al were due to meet as soon as the unity announcement was made.

The surprise deal, which was announced last week, comes after 18 months of fruitless talks.

In Gaza City, around 300 people waving Palestinian flags gathered in a festive atmosphere to celebrate the deal, dancing and letting off firecrackers.

"Palestinians want to end the division," said one banner held aloft by the crowd.

Many participants waved the green flag of Hamas, and a few also raised the yellow flag of the Fatah movement, which has been banned in Gaza ever since the Islamist movement ousted Abbas loyalists from the territory four years ago.

"This is the day that we've all been waiting for," an announcer shouted to the cheering crowd.

Support rallies were also planned in the West Bank town of Ramallah, where Abbas has his headquarters.

AFP contributed to this report

Palestinian Source: “Hamas And Fat'h Agree Fayyad Won’t Be Heading New Interim Government”

Wednesday May 04, 2011 10:27 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

A senior Palestinian source reported that the Hamas and Fat'h movements agreed that the current Prime Minister in the West Bank, Dr. Salaam Fayyad, will not be heading the new interim unity government that would be formed after the unity deal is officially signed.

Speaking on condition of a anonymity, the source told the United International press agency that both Hamas and Fat'h movements agreed on removing Fayyad, and added that this decision does not mean totally removing him from the government as some officials are calling for appointing him as a Minister of Finance for his ability to obtain international and financial support due to his good relations with donor countries.

The new head of the interim government will likely be from the Gaza Strip.
The government will not carry a political agenda, and will have certain tasks headed by ensuring a positive atmosphere for a lasting reconciliation, preparing for the new general and presidential elections, and to supervise the reconstruction of Gaza.

Other tasks of the government include resolving the social and administrative effects of the internal rifts and conflict, and to reform all Palestinian institutions, including the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).

All political prisoners held by Fat'h in the West Bank and by Hamas in Gaza will be released following the official ceremony of signing the deal, while the Legislative Council will be resuming its duties in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The security forces will be controlled and run by the unity government.

The general, presidential and National Council elections will be consecutively held one year after the deal is signed.

The elections will be held under Arab and International supervision, and an elections court headed by a judge, and eight supervising judges, will be formed to ensure fair and transparent elections.

Egypt’s FM Meets Hamas Leaders, Cairo Prepares For Official Ceremony Of Signing Unity Deal

Wednesday May 04, 2011 04:05 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Nabil Al-Arabi, met on Tuesday evening with the visiting Hamas delegation headed by Hamas’ Political Bureau Chief, Khaled Mesha'al, and held talks on the latest developments in the Arab World and the Palestinian Unity Agreement.

The Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Information Center reported that Mesha'al and his accompanying delegation also held a series of meetings with Egyptian officials to discuss the latest developments.

On Wednesday, Palestinian factions signed the Egyptian-mediated unity agreement.

Mesha'al of Hamas, Samir Al-Rifaey of Fat'h, Ramadan Shalah of the Islamic Jihad, Ahmad Jibril of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command, and Maher Al-Taher of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, were among the political leaders who participated in the ceremony.

A senior Egyptian official stated Tuesday that an official ceremony will be held on Wednesday, and added that Cairo sent official invitations to Arab Foreign Ministers, and ministers from Russia, China, Turkey and a number of European countries.

Egypt also invited UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Arab League Secretary-General, Amr Moussa, Organization of the Islamic Conference Secretary-General, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton.

Cairo wants to make sure a positive atmosphere prevails during the ceremony, while Egyptian and Palestinian officials were concluding final touches to the preparations in order to ensure a lasting deal that will put an end to years of internal and bloody conflict between Fat'h and Hamas movements in the occupied territories.

Following the official ceremony on Wednesday, Palestinian factions will start consultations to form the new interim government that would operate until new general and presidential elections are held.

Also, an Arab Committee headed by Egypt will be heading to the Palestinian territories to ensure the implementation of the deal, and to ensure that obstacles are removed, especially obstacles in issues related to security arrangements, and the integration of government facilities in Gaza and the West Bank.

Israel and the United States opposed the deal and threatened to boycott the new Palestinian government as it includes the Hamas movement, dubbed as a terrorist group by the two countries.

Mesha'al Meets Egypt’s Security Chief

Tuesday May 03, 2011 02:32 by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies
Head of the Political Bureau of the Hamas movement, Khaled Mesha'al, met on Monday with Egypt’s Security Chief, Murad Muwafi, and a number of Egyptian security leaders.

Izzat Al-Rishiq of Hamas’ Political Bureau told the Hamas affiliated Palestinian Information Center that Mesha'al and Muwafi held talks on the situation in Palestine, the region, and the Palestinian unity deal that will be signed this Wednesday in Cairo.

Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouq and Mohammad Nassr, both political leaders of Hamas, also attended the meetings.

Hamas delegates from Gaza and in exile arrived in Cairo on Sunday evening to hold meetings with Egyptian officials, and to attend the official ceremony of signing the Palestinian unity deal that was mediated by Egypt.

Fat'h leaders, headed by president Mahmoud Abbas, will be attending the official ceremony. The deal will official be signed by Abbas and Mesha'al, marking an end to years of internal divisions.

Israel and the United States are threatening to boycott the Palestinian Authority, and indicated they would halt all sorts of cooperation with it.

Several U.S senators, mainly republicans, called for stopping U.S. and international aid to the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas for signing a deal with the Hamas movement, dubbed as a terrorist group.

Netanyahu on European tour to incite against unity between Hamas and Fat'h

[ 04/05/2011 - 12:45 PM ]


 Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu met on Wednesday a number of top British officials in London as part of a European tour aimed at mobilizing opposition to the reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fat'h factions.

A senior Israeli official said Netanyahu would discuss with European officials the issue of unity between Hamas and Fatah and warn them against the political partnership that Mahmoud Abbas intends to establish with Hamas Movement.

The Israeli premier had asked Abbas a few days ago to backtrack on his intention to reconcile with Hamas and to return to Israel's peace talks, on the ground that such an agreement constitutes a serious blow to the peace process.

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