Under the accord, the implementation of which would be monitored by
Egypt, the Palestinian Authority would hold presidential and parliamentary
elections over the next year in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In the
interim, Fatah and Hamas would share power and each would remain over their
regions. Hamas captured the Gaza Strip in 2007.
"Four black years have affected the interests of Palestinians," Abbas
said. "Now we meet to assert a unified will."
Fatah delegation chief Azzam Al Ahmad, who signed the accord, said the
Palestine Liberation Organization, rather than the PA, would be responsible
for any negotiations with Israel. Al Ahmad said Hamas would not be involved
in talks with the Jewish state, rather Fatah's partner in the formation of a
security council. He said the council would be authorized to organize what
he termed a "professional" security force.
"The government's role is limited to administrative affairs dealing with
the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip," Al Ahmad
Officials said Abbas and Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Masha'al
would meet in mid-May to launch negotiations. During the ceremony in Cairo,
Masha'al refused to sit on the podium with Abbas.
"We will have a meeting with President Abu Mazen [Abbas] next week,
possibly in Cairo to kick-start the procedures for the reconciliation,"
Hamas deputy political bureau chief Mussa Abu Marzouk said.
Since the reconciliation agreement, Israel has frozen $105 million in
tax revenues meant for the PA and transported to the Gaza Strip. Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to
cancel the accord with Hamas.
"The agreement between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas is a hard
blow to the peace process," Netanyahu said in a meeting with Quartet
coordinator Tony Blair. "How is it possible to achieve peace with a
government, half of which calls for the destruction of the state of Israel
and even praises the arch-murderer Osama bin Laden?"