A Palestinian unity government will be formed in less than three weeks, a spokesman for the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) said on Saturday.
Fawzi Abu Eita told the Ma’an news agency that the unity government will be established even before the five-week deadline agreed on by the two major Palestinian factions, the PLO (the organization that makes up the interim administrative body, the Palestinian Authority, formed after the 1993 Oslo Accords) and Hamas, which rule over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, respectively.
Nearly two weeks have passed since the two factions agreed to bury the hatchet on April 23, in a historic deal that ended the seven-year rift between them.
Since then, there have been several indications of warming ties between the two parties, such as a decision by Hamas to allow West Bank-based newspapers to be distributed in the Gaza Strip, and a corresponding decision by the Palestinian Authority to allow the Hamas newspaper to be distributed in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Members of both organizations announced the deal at a press conference in Gaza following two days of negotiations last month.
The deal calls for a unity government to be formed within five weeks and for presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections to be called within six months of the coalition taking form, Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh said at the time.
The sides will also exchange prisoners as part of the deal.
Abu Eita said the PLO and Hamas would require less than three weeks they have left to reach an agreement over the joint government.
To that end, Abu Eita said a senior Fatah official, Azzam al-Ahmad, would visit the Gaza Strip in the coming weeks to move the talks between the two factions along.
In April, Azzam, a senior figure in Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, said he hoped the deal would be “a true beginning and a true partnership.”
“We have made this Palestinian dream a reality whereby the rift has come to an end and we are reunited,” he said, calling the agreement “a national responsibility and a duty.”
Hamas and the Fatah-dominated PLO have been at loggerheads since 2007, when the Islamic terrorist Hamas organization seized Gaza from Abbas in 2007, leaving him with only parts of the West Bank. Both sides have become entrenched in their territories, with Hamas using Gaza to fire thousands of rockets at Israel over the years, drawing two large scale Israeli offensives.
It is not the first time that a national unity government has been announced by the rival factions, and on several previous occasions attempts to form an administration have collapsed.