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
National

Dogs are capable of feeling jealousy - U.S.…

By Curtis Skinner(Reuters) - Dogs are a man's best friend, and research released on Wednesday says canines want to keep it that way.Dogs are capable…

Local

G train riders brace for five-week shutdown

G train service will be suspended between Brooklyn and Queens between Friday, July 25, and Tuesday, Sept. 2.

International

Peaches Geldof's death was drugs-related, coroner rules

LONDON (Reuters) - The death of Peaches Geldof, the daughter of musician and Band Aid founder Bob Geldof, was drugs-related, a coroner ruled on Wednesday.The…

Local

Family, supporters gather in Brooklyn for Eric Garner…

Family members gathered on Wednesday for the funeral of Eric Garner, who died shortly after police put him in a banned chokehold as they arrested him.

Going Out

5 must-try dishes at Edible Manhattan's Good Beer

Rooting out the exotic amid the New York City bar scene is noble quest. But if you’d like to have it all come to you,…

Books

Art imitates life (almost) in David Shapiro's new…

David Shapiro talks about his book, "You're Not Much Use To Anyone."

Movies

Dakota Fanning's indie growing pains on 'Very Good…

Dakota Fanning on her latest "Very Good Girls."

Entertainment

Britney Spears launches new lingerie line and fans…

Women everywhere can say that they are not that innocent when Britney Spears launches her new lingerie and loungewear line. “Every woman should feel confident…

NFL

Jerry Reese confident with Giants, skipping countdown clocks…

Last year, Giants GM Jerry Reese installed a countdown clock in the locker room to inspire Big Blue to play in their own stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII.

MLB

Brandon McCarthy finds his calling on Twitter

Yankees starter Brandon McCarthy joined Twitter three year ago for the same reason many people do: to get news quickly.

Sports

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

NFL

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running…

Fantasy football: Johnny Manziel could give your running game a boost

Food

Recharge with a post-workout smoothie from Nicky Hilton

Some people can roll out of bed right as their alarm goes off. And that alarm isn’t set for 20 minutes before they have to…

Education

Colleges are increasingly embracing the concept of gender-neutral…

  Northwestern University recently made headlines after announcing that it would be installing two gender-neutral bathrooms in the university's student center. “These are two gender-open…

Career

How to prepare to interview for your dream…

    Congratulations! You landed a job interview at your dream company! A lot of hard work has gone into determining which companies to apply…

Style

The shirtdress is a summer must-have

  We love throwing on our boyfriend’s shirt and a pair of jeans (no matter how much he grumbles that it’s his turn to wear the…