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Abbas begins talks to form national unity government

Both Fatah and Hamas will have to forgo key demands in order for reconciliation talks to succeed

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh (center) meeting in Cairo, on February 23, 2012 (photo credit: Mohammed Al-Hums/Flash90)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh (center) meeting in Cairo, on February 23, 2012 (photo credit: Mohammed Al-Hums/Flash90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced Saturday that he has started conducting negotiations to form a national unity government with Hamas, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported. Abbas also called on all other Palestinian parties to take part in the political process.

Abbas’s party Fatah, which would like to hold general elections as soon as possible, had required in the past that the unity government — the formation of which was decided on last year —  will serve as an interim government for no more than three months, and be tasked solely with preparing for national elections.

For its part, Hamas, which aspires to join the PLO, has demanded that elections for the PLO’s Palestinian National Council (PNC) — the movement’s legislative body — take place simultaneously with parliamentary and presidential elections in the PA.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Abbas failed to consult with his organization before making the announcement, and that Hamas heard about it through media reports.

Earlier this week, Egypt proposed a new compromise formula to break the deadlock in reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas.

Quoting “knowledgeable sources,” Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat reported Sunday that Egypt plans to pressure both Fatah and Hamas to forgo a respective key demand.

Hamas and Fatah have been at loggerheads since the violent Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in June 2007.

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