The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday the unity pact between the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Hamas movement was compatible with peace talks with ’Israel’.
The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday the unity pact between the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Hamas movement was compatible with peace talks with 'Israel'.
"There is no incompatibility between reconciliation and the talks, especially since we are committed to a just peace on the basis of a two-state solution in accordance with the resolutions of international law," Abbas said in a statement issued by his office.
Mahmoud Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas agreed to implement a unity pact, with the aim of forming a government within five weeks.
The two main Palestinian factions have signed an accord designed to end seven years of division, paving the way for elections later in the year and the formation of a unity government within weeks.
The move, after a day of talks between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza that lasted until three in the morning, comes less than a week before the expiry of the deadline for US-sponsored peace talks between 'Israel' and the Palestinian Authority on 29 April and is certain to complicate US efforts to seek another nine-month extension to those talks.
'Israel' immediately responded by saying the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, was moving to peace with Hamas instead of peace with Israel.
"He has to choose," said the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. "Does he want peace with Hamas or peace with 'Israel'? You can have one but not the other. I hope he chooses peace, so far he hasn't done so."
After the agreement was announced, 'Israel' cancelled a planned session of peace negotiations with the Palestinians. It also launched an air strike on a site in the north of the Gaza Strip, wounding 12 people including children, which underscored the deep mutual suspicion and hostility that persist.
Speaking in Ramallah in the West Bank, Abbas said in his view the pact with Hamas did not contradict the peace talks he was pursuing with 'Israel', adding that an independent state living peacefully alongside 'Israel' remained his goal.
The agreement, signed in Gaza City on Wednesday by Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of Hamas, and a senior Palestinian Liberation Organisation delegation dispatched by Abbas marks the latest attempt in three years of efforts to end the discord between the two factions.
Haniyeh announced the deal to end the split between the two groups and between Gaza and the West Bank. "This is the good news we have to tell the people: the era of discord is ended," Haniyeh said.
Although there have been failed attempts to end the rift before, this agreement comes with both factions facing internal problems.
Despite talk before the announcement about the quick formation of a national unity government and a decree for elections, the wording of the agreement was less cut and dried – suggesting a possible timing for elections in at "least six months" after talks to try to form a new government by agreement.
The statement was also not clear whether Hamas figures would be represented in any new government – which could lead to a cut in EU and US funding. Skeptics, however, noted that similar agreements between the two sides – under Arab sponsorship – have been reached in the past but never implemented.
Despite Netanyahu's comments, later in the day a senior Israeli official was more cautious about the implications of the Gaza deal.
"The agreement is vague on details and the prime minister's office is consulting tonight the meaning of it. It does not bode well but for the moment the policy is wait and see."