Hamas, Fatah announce deal to form Palestinian unity government
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Hamas, Fatah announce deal to form Palestinian unity government

Talks held in Moscow with unofficial Russian mediation; both parties urge Lavrov to convince Trump not to move US embassy to Jerusalem

Representatives of Palestinian organizations hold a press conference in Moscow following reconciliation talks on January 17, 2017. (AFP PHOTO/Alexander NEMENOV)
Representatives of Palestinian organizations hold a press conference in Moscow following reconciliation talks on January 17, 2017. (AFP PHOTO/Alexander NEMENOV)

After three days of reconciliation talks in Moscow, the main Palestinian parties on Tuesday announced a deal to form a national unity government prior to the holding of elections.

“We have reached agreement under which, within 48 hours, we will call on [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas to launch consultations on the creation of a government” of national unity, senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad told a press conference, speaking in Arabic.

After the government is formed, the Palestinians would set up a national council, which would include Palestinians in exile, and hold elections.

“Today the conditions for [such an initiative] are better than ever,” said Ahmad.

Palestinian Ambassador to Russia Abed al-Hafeez Nofal (L) and Hamas deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk hold a press conference in Moscow on January 17, 2017 (AFP PHOTO/Alexander NEMENOV)
Palestinian Ambassador to Russia Abed al-Hafeez Nofal (L) and Hamas deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk hold a press conference in Moscow on January 17, 2017 (AFP PHOTO/Alexander NEMENOV)

The non-official talks in Moscow began on Sunday under Russian auspices with the goal of restoring “the unity of the Palestinian people.” Representatives came from Fatah, terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and other factions.

Abbas’s secular Fatah and the Islamist terror group Hamas have been at loggerheads since the latter seized Gaza in a bloody coup in 2007.

Last year the Palestinian government postponed the first municipal polls in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 10 years, after the Ramallah-based high court ruled they should be held only in the Fatah-run West Bank.

The last time the Palestinians staged elections in which both Hamas and Fatah took part was in 2006, when Hamas claimed an unexpected victory.

The Palestinian representatives also met on Monday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and asked him to dissuade US President-elect Donald Trump from carrying out a campaign pledge to move the US embassy in Israel from coastal Tel Aviv to the capital Jerusalem, which is also claimed by the Palestinians as the seat of government for their future state.

“We sensed understanding on the part of Mr. Lavrov,” said Ahmad.

From left: EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pose for photographers before a meeting of the Middle East Quartet at UN headquarters in New York on Sept. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
From left: EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pose for photographers before a meeting of the Middle East Quartet at UN headquarters in New York on Sept. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Ahmad and Moussa Abu Marzouk of Hamas both spoke derisively of the Quartet — the foursome of Middle East peacemakers comprising the United States, Russia, the EU and UN — in its years-long effort to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The Quartet’s work completely failed. It was unable to advance the decisions taken by the international community, including [UN] resolutions,” said Ahmad.

“It is imperative to find a new working mechanism for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he said.

Abu Marzouk, a senior official in the terror group, said he no longer wanted to work with the Quartet but instead with countries and organizations on an individual basis.

“Russia can play a substantial role” in the region, he said.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report

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