Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.
File: From left: Palestinian legislator Mustafa Barghouti, Palestinian Fatah delegation chief Azzam al-Ahmed, Hamas prime minister in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas deputy leader Musa Abu Marzuk, and secretary-general of the Palestinian Arab Front Jameel Shehadeh, pose for a picture in Gaza on April 23, 2014 after announcing a unity deal. (photo credit:AFP/SAID KHATIB)
Palestinian rival factions Fatah and Hamas have agreed to form a unity government and hold parliamentary elections within six months, a senior official said on Monday.
Mohammed Ashtiya, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, said that representatives from the two organizations had reached some understandings toward reconciliation during meetings begun in February in Doha, the capital of Qatar.
The sides agreed to establish a national unity government encompassing Fatah, Hamas and other Palestinian factions and to hold elections for the legislative council and the presidency within six months.
They also agreed that the unity government would work according to Palestine Liberation Organization guidelines, Ashtiya said. However, he did not make any reference to some of the more critical issues that have divided Hamas and Fatah, such as the fate of prisoners, political arrests, and the return of Palestinian Authority rule to the Gaza Strip.
Both sides were represented by high-ranking members, with Hamas sending political chief Khaled Mashaal and senior leader Moussa Abu Marzouk, and Fatah sending Central Committee members Azzam al-Ahmad and Sakhr Basiso, Fatah official Ali Barakeh told the London-based daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat when the talks started early last month.
Fatah controls the Palestinian Authority, which rules in the West Bank, while Hamas wields power in the Gaza Strip. The two groups have been at loggerheads almost constantly since Hamas won elections in the Palestinian Authority in 2006 and subsequently staged a violent takeover of Gaza.
Many meetings have been held over the years and three agreements were signed — in Qatar, Cairo and Gaza — but none has led to any real change on the ground.
The PA security agencies have continued arresting and harassing Hamas operatives in the West Bank unabated, while Hamas has placed hundreds of Fatah members in Gaza under house arrest, at times even shooting at its members. Media outlets for the competing factions have continuously defamed one another.
Qatar is the latest would-be mediator. It stepped into the void after Egypt, which is at odds with Hamas, refused to host meetings between the two rival factions.