Sunday, March 15, 2009

Palestinian unity negotiations near collapse

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Mar. 12, 2009, by Khaled Abu Toameh:

Hamas and Fatah negotiators said on Thursday they are having difficulty reaching an agreement ....

Sharp differences erupted between the two parties during the Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation talks that began in Cairo earlier this week, they said...

...Five joint Hamas-Fatah committees that have been trying to forge compromises had made little progress in the past few days, representatives of Fatah and Hamas said.

Ibrahim Abu al-Naja, a senior Fatah official participating in the discussions ...said that both Hamas and Fatah must also take into consideration the international community's attitude, noting that the US and some EU countries have already made clear they won't deal with a new government that does not recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence and accept all previous agreements between the PLO and Israel...

...Hamas spokesmen reacted angrily to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's demand that a new Hamas-Fatah government accept the conditions of the Middle East Quartet, namely recognizing Israel's right to exist, renouncing terrorism and accepting all agreements between the PLO and Israel.

"Who said that we are going to form a government just to appease the Americans?" Barhoum asked. "The main reason for schism in the Palestinian arena is US meddling in our internal affairs."

Taher a-Nunu, spokesman for the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, said he wasn't optimistic about the Cairo talks. Fatah's demand that the next PA government accept the PLO's political agenda, which supports the two-state solution, was unacceptable, he said.

"Fatah wants a government that accepts the two-state solution, and this is something that Hamas can't and will never accept," Nunu said. "We are prepared to accept a Palestinian state in the 1967 boundaries only as a temporary solution, without recognizing the Zionist occupation of any inch of our homeland." ...
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