Hamas settles dispute over Palestinian unity
Palestinian President Abbas (R) meet with Hamas leader Mashaal in Cairo. AP photoThe leadership of Hamas settled internal disagreements and approved a unity deal with its political rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a senior official said.
Hamas’ political bureau, the group’s top decision-making body, met Feb. 22 in Cairo and signed off on the deal after more than 12 hours of talks over two days, said Izzat al-Rishq, an aide to Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal. Since 2007, the rivals have run separate governments Abbas in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza. An agreement signed in Doha, Qatar, between Mashaal and Abbas on Feb. 6 envisions Abbas heading an interim unity government ahead of general elections in the Palestinian territories. Meanwhile, Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported yesterday Hamas will demand that members of its organization fill key roles in the unity government with Fatah if it is to agree to allow Abbas to serve as the interim government’s prime minister. “The meeting decided to fully implement the reconciliation agreement and the Doha declaration,” al-Rishq told the Associated Press.
“It puts an end to the debate and discussions over Hamas’ position concerning the Doha agreement and puts an end to what seemed to be disagreement within Hamas.” Abbas and Mashaal met later on Feb. 22 in Cairo to discuss the next steps in the deal. A Hamas-run TV station in Gaza quoted Mashaal as saying the meeting was positive and they are moving in the right direction.