Palestine unity govt talks begin: Abbas
RAMALLAH - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday announced the start of talks on forming a national unity government, the official Wafa news agency said.
The announcement came on the last day of the statutory two-week period after the April 13 resignation of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad from the Palestinian Authority that governs the West Bank.
The consultations will take place “in accordance with the Doha Declaration and the timetable set up by the Palestinian leadership in meetings in Cairo on the reactivation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation” in February, Abbas told the news agency on a visit to Italy.
Abbas urged all Palestinian movements to cooperate so he can issue two decrees, one on forming a unity government “composed of two independent personalities” and a second fixing a date for elections, Wafa reported.
Sami Abu Zuhri, spokesman for the Hamas movement that rules the Gaza Strip, said that “any government must be formed in accordance with the reconciliation agreement and in consultation and agreement with Hamas”.
“There has been no consultation with Hamas on this matter so far,” Abu Zuhri said, warning against “any unilateral steps”.
Hamas and Fatah have repeatedly failed to bridge their political differences despite signing an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation agreement in 2011. There have been no substantive moves to implement the accord.
Hamas rejects the interim peace accords which Fatah leaders signed in the 1990s with Israel. Peace talks between Israel and Abbas have been stalled since 2010 over Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank.
Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation said Palestinian basic law required forming a new administration because of Fayyad’s resignation.
“Abbas’s step has thrown the ball into Hamas’s court to agree on a date for holding elections and they will be responsible for the failure if they do not accept,” Abu Youssef said.
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