Palestinian factions fail to reach unity accord

Palestinian factions fail to reach unity accord

Talks in Cairo stall as Hamas, Fatah can’t agree on procedures for new elections

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Hamas and Fatah officials meet in Cairo for unity talks in February 2012. (photo credit: Mohammed al-Hums/Flash 90)
Hamas and Fatah officials meet in Cairo for unity talks in February 2012. (photo credit: Mohammed al-Hums/Flash 90)

Reconciliation talks between Palestinian factions on Saturday failed to mend a nearly six year rift dividing the two major parties, Fatah and Hamas, and send the Palestinians to parliamentary elections.

The council convened by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas held a late-night eight-hour marathon meeting in Cairo to discuss reconciling differences and forming a unified Palestinian government.

Hamas forcefully ejected Fatah from the Gaza Strip in 2007 following its victory in the previous year’s elections, and has since established its own fiefdom in the coastal territory. The two parties signed a reconciliation deal last year, but it has yet to be implemented and the particulars of the agreement remain undefined.

The latest round of talks ended without reaching “tangible results,” Palestinian Ma’an News Agency quoted the leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine saying, adding that Hamas was to blame.

PLO executive committee member Wassel Abu Yussef told AFP that the principal differences between Fatah and Hamas’s stances regarded voting for the Palestine National Council, the PLO parliament, and legislative and presidential elections in the Palestinian territories.

“All 12 factions agreed, except Hamas members, on the need to have proportional representation for the parliament and presidential elections in addition to the Palestinian National Council and in the diaspora,” Nayef Hawatmeh said, according to Ma’an.

“The atmosphere was positive but we need another meeting to sort out some interpretations and differences in point of view,” Maher al-Taher, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, told AFP.

The talks were convened under the aegis of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which was also tasked with bringing non-members Hamas and Islamic Jihad into the PLO.

Middle East political consultant Ghanem Nuseibeh tweeted in response to the failed talks that “Fatah near gives up on PA unity talks w/ Hamas. Latter has its cards closer to its chest which makes it even more difficult for former.”

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