Abbas calls on Hamas to fulfill renconciliation deal

Abbas calls on Hamas to fulfill renconciliation deal

RAMALLAH - Agence France-Presse
Abbas calls on Hamas to fulfill renconciliation deal

Palestinian President Abbas (R) stands next to PM Hamdallah (C) and other ministers as they pose during a swearing-in ceremony of the new government, which Hamas accuses it of being ‘illegal.’ REUTERS photo

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for national reconciliation with Gaza’s Hamas rulers on June 6, after the swearing-in of a new government in the West Bank.

“I want to overcome the obstacles on the path to... establishing an independent Palestinian state,” he told the first meeting of the new government headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah. “This was supposed to be a government of national unity, but we didn’t succeed because of Hamas’s refusal to hold elections until now,” Abbas said.

Rival movements Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah signed a reconciliation deal in Cairo in 2011, pledging to set up an interim consensus government of independents that would pave the way for parliamentary and presidential elections within 12 months. But implementation of the accord stalled over the make-up of the interim government, and a February 2012 deal intended to overcome outstanding differences was opposed by Hamas members in Gaza.

Ruling until unity gov’t

Hamas has refused to recognize the appointment of Hamdallah, as it had his predecessor Salam Fayyad. The Islamist movement instead recognizes its own primer minister, Ismail Haniya. Hamdallah succeeded Fayyad, who resigned in mid April after months of difficult relations with Abbas.

The new government was sworn in front of Abbas at his headquarters in Ramallah. Hamdallah stressed beforehand that his administration would rule only for “a transitional period” until formation of a unity government.

The reconciliation efforts came as the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is set to return to Israel and the Palestinian territories next week for his fifth visit to the region to extend his push for a revival of peace talks.