Fatah, Hamas agree on joint Palestinian government

Special to WorldTribune.com

ABU DHABI — Qatar has brokered an agreement between the two leading
Palestinian factions.

On Feb. 6, leaders of Fatah and Hamas agreed to resume efforts to form a
joint government and prepare for elections. Under Qatar’s influence, the two
sides supported the selection of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud
Abbas as head of the unity coalition.

Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani (center), Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (left) and Hamas leader Khaled Masha'al attend a ceremony in Doha on Feb. 6. /AFP/Getty Images

“This government would be composed of independent technocrats whose task will be to facilitate presidential and parliamentary elections and begin the reconstruction of Gaza,” a joint statement released in Doha said.

Officials said the accord, the latest in a series of agreements between Fatah and Hamas, was the result of significant pressure by Qatar. They said Qatar’s Emir Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, a major donor to Hamas, pressed both Fatah and Hamas to compromise in an effort to form a unity government.

“We believe that the brothers have no choice other than to proceed with efforts to achieve their unity,” Hamad said. “And they will find us and the Arab nation standing with them to regain all the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.”

Under the accord, the 76-year-old Abbas, who has long pledged to retire, would become both prime minister and PA chairman. Fatah and Hamas have said
that elections could take place as early as May 2012.

“We did not sign this agreement for the sake of signing it or for the
media,” Abbas said, “rather to implement it, whether it had to do with the
elections or the government.”

Nabil Shaath, a leading aide to Abbas, said the Fatah-Hamas government
would be responsible for both the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Shaath, in
contrast to the assertion of Hamas leaders, said the government would also
direct security in the Hamas-controlled strip.

Officials said Qatar was expected to send hundreds of millions of
dollars to both Hamas and the PA. They said the PA has been alarmed by its
budget shortfall, which sparked unrest throughout the West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the Fatah-Hamas
agreement could end peace efforts with the Jewish state. In an address
to his Likud Party, Netanyahu said Hamas was entering a PA government
despite the former’s pledge to destroy Israel.

“If Abu Mazen [Abbas] implements what has been signed in Doha, he will
have chosen to abandon the way of peace and to join with Hamas, without
Hamas having accepted the minimal conditions of the international
community,” Netanyahu said.

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