Hamas, Abbas’s PLO announce reconciliation agreement

Senior Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmed (L), head of the Hamas government Ismail Haniyeh (C) and senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouq hold their hands after announcing a reconciliation agreement. Credit: Reuters
Senior Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmed (L), head of the Hamas government Ismail Haniyeh (C) and senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouq hold their hands after announcing a reconciliation agreement. Credit: Reuters

The Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed on Wednesday to a unity pact, both sides announced in a joint news conference.

The move, coming after a long line of failed efforts to reconcile after seven years of internal bickering, envisions a unity government within five weeks and national elections six months later.

“This is the good news we tell our people: the era of division is over,” Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh said to loud applause at a Palestinian press conference also attended by representatives of the PLO.

Israel said after the announcement that Abbas had chosen Hamas over peace, and canceled a session of U.S.-brokered talks with the Palestinians that had been scheduled for Wednesday night in Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office that Abbas “chose Hamas and not peace. Whoever chooses Hamas does not want peace.”

Israeli Channel 2 TV said Netanyahu would convene an emergency session of his security cabinet on Thursday to discuss his response.

Along with the United States and the European Union, Israel views Hamas as a terrorist organization, and says Abbas’ efforts to unify with the group show he is not serious about extending the troubled negotiations.

The talks, aimed at ending its decades-old conflict with the Palestinians and establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, are scheduled to end on April 29.

Palestinians have long hoped for a healing of the political rift between the PLO and militant Hamas, which won a Palestinian election in 2006 and seized control of the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to Western-backed Abbas in 2007.

But reconciliation dreams have been dashed repeatedly in the past. Since 2011, Hamas and Fatah have failed to implement an Egyptian-brokered unity deal because of disputes over power-sharing and the handling of the conflict with Israel.

Hamas has battled Israel, which it refuses to recognize, while Abbas’s Fatah party has remained in control of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank and pursued years of fruitless talks with Israel.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said the unity pact would not interfere with peace efforts.

“There’s no contradiction at all between unity and talks, and we’re committed to establishing a just peace based on a two-state solution,” he said in a statement following the deal.

ARAB APPROVAL

Egypt’s foreign minister Nabil Fahmy welcomed the deal, saying in a statement he hoped it would “support the Palestinian position in the peace talks”.

Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah congratulated the Hamas prime minister, a TV channel run by the group said.

The approval of the two influential Arab states, which have been at loggerheads over the role of the Muslim Brotherhood of which Hamas is an offshoot, implied the agreement had backing from the region as a whole.

The deal could give Abbas a measure of sovereignty in Gaza and help Hamas, hemmed in by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, become less isolated.

But Gaza analyst Talal Okal noted that previous unity agreements signed with great fanfare had amounted to nothing, and the future of this deal may depend on whether the sides agree to extend U.S.-brokered peace talks.

“Will it materialize or not? Let’s wait for April 29th. What will happen if negotiations are extended?” Okal said.

Minutes after the announcement, Israel launched an air strike on northern Gaza, wounding 12 people, including several small children, local medical officials said.

The Israeli military said in a statement it had carried out a “counter-terrorism operation in the northern Gaza Strip,” and that it had not identified a hit, suggesting it may have missed its target.

U.S. Secretary of state John Kerry revived the peace talks in July after a nearly three-year hiatus.

The negotiations stalled this month when Israel refused to carry out the last of four waves of prisoner releases unless it received assurances the Palestinian leadership would continue the talks beyond the end of April.

After Israel failed to free the prisoners, Abbas responded by signing 15 international treaties, including the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war and occupations. Israel condemned the move as a unilateral step toward statehood.

Talks were last held on Tuesday, with no reported progress.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Hurricane Odile batters Mexico's Baja resorts, sparks looting

Hurricane Odile injured dozens of people, forced the evacuation of thousands and smashed shops open to looters in the popular tourist area of Baja, Mexico.

National

Apple iPhone 6 pre-orders hit record 4 million…

By Lehar Maan(Reuters) - Apple Inc said many customers will need to wait until next month for their new iPhones after a record 4 million…

National

LAPD investigates complaint from detained 'Django' actress

The LAPD is investigating after "Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts accused police of violating her rights when they detained her.

Local

Number of New York City smokers increase, topping…

For the first time since 2007, there are  more than one million smokers in New York City, according to the New York City Department of…

Movies

Newsflash: Corey Stoll is still not a man

In director Shaun Levy's "This Is Where I Leave You," Corey Stoll stars as the oldest of four adult children (the others are played by…

Movies

If you don't like Simon Pegg's new film,…

Simon Pegg goes all out in "Hector and the Search for Happiness" as the titular psychiatrist stymied by modern life who embarks on a globetrotting…

Arts

Art in Chelsea: Don't miss these 3 galleries

We selected three sure bets for seeing cool art in the galleries of Chelsea.

Music

Robin Thicke blurs lines further with new 'Blurred…

"The reality is," said Robin Thicke about "Blurred Lines" in a court deposition, "Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song."

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

NFL

3 things we learned in Jets loss to…

The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.

NFL

Victor Cruz catches case of the drops in…

The Giants dropped a tough, 25-14, decision to the undermanned Cardinals Sunday in their home opener. And drop was the operative word of the day,…

Travel

World's most hipster cities: Top 5

Travel blogger Adam Groffman tells us his picks for the Top 5 most hipster cities in the world.

Education

The top 5 regrets recent high school grads…

College application season can seem like a blur for many students - as test prep, campus visits and filling out a seemingly endless stream of…

Parenting

Tech execs tend to limit their kids' screen…

You probably got your iPad before Bill Gates's kids did.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing: Daybreaker returns, Ray Rice jersey trade, Sweet…

  Now that Ray Rice is no longer with the Baltimore Ravens — or any other NFL team — after video footage surfaced showing him…