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Fatah signs reconciliation plan, placing onus on Hamas
Published Wednesday 14/10/2009 (updated) 15/10/2009 21:27
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Demonstrators in Gaza call on Hamas and Fatah to reunite [MaanImages]
Ramallah – Ma’an – Fatah signed an Egyptian-backed deal for reconciliation with its archrival, the Hamas movement, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday, senior officials said.

Jamal Muheisin, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, told Ma’an that they signed the deal because of the movement’s “positive” outlook on the plan. He also said Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmad will hand over the signed document Wednesday or Thursday.

Official Hamas sources said the party’s senior leadership has also approved the document, although they have not yet declared this publicly.

Muheisin said he doubted Hamas’ commitment to the agreement even if the party chooses to sign it. “Even if they sign the agreement, Hamas will search for pretexts to avoid implementation of the document’s conditions because they are not seriously seeking to end disagreement,” he said.

On Tuesday, Fatah leader Al-Ahmad, who is involved in the negotiations, explained that Egypt asked both Hamas and Fatah to reply to its proposal with a simple “yes” or “no” by Thursday.

According to Al-Ahmad, the other Palestinian factions are expected to respond by 20 October, and a formal signing ceremony will take place after the Eid Al-Adha holiday at the end of November. This schedule was confirmed by Hamas sources.

Asked why they signed the deal if they doubted Hamas’ commitment, Muheisin said his party wanted to drop all pretenses and push forward with an agreement.

He expressed hopes that Hamas would give priority to Palestinian national interests and sign the document because, he said, it is the Palestinian people who pay the price division and partisanship.

A Gaza-based member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, Abdullah Abu Samhadana, also confirmed that Fatah signed the document, despite reservations on some points. These concerns, he said, were not enough to “hamper reconciliation.”

He explained that Azzam Al-Ahmad would depart the West Bank for Egypt to hand the document which he said was signed by Fatah’s supreme leader, President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas divided on proposal

A Hamas official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the movement’s leaders decided to sign the Egyptian proposal. A public announcement is expected by Thursday, the deadline set by Egypt.

In an unannounced development, Hamas’ senior-most leader Khalid Mash’al flew to Qatar on Tuesday for talks with the country’s prince regarding the proposed reconciliation plan.

Ma’an learned that the Egyptian proposal was on the agenda of the meeting. Sources also said that there is a heated debate within the movement about whether to sign the document. The movement’s leadership in Syria is said to be less interested in signing the deal.

Also on the agenda for the talks in Qatar was the upcoming vote in the United Nations Human Rights Council regarding the Goldstone report on war crimes in Gaza.

Separately, Ismail Al-Ashkar, a Hamas-affiliated member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) confirmed that Egypt set out a timeline calling on other factions to sign the deal by 20 October, with a signing ceremony after Eid Al-Adha. This schedule he said “may be acceptable to Hamas.”

In a statement Al-Ashkar also shed light on the details of the Egyptian plan. He confirmed that the document calls for a Joint National Committee in lieu of a unity government. The committee would include 16 members representing Fatah, Hamas, and the other factions, the official said. He said the committee’s role is to implement a national unity agreement, and does not have any “political obligations” outside of this goal.

US reaffirms Quartet conditions

A US government spokesperson reiterated previously-stated conditions for whether it will recognize the next Palestinian government.

"We certainly favor an effective Palestinian government, and we are certainly supportive of a reconciliation process," State Department spokesperson Philip Crowley said in a Washington press briefing.

"If you have a unity government that operates ... on the basis of the principles that we've laid out, then we will be supportive of it," Crowley stressed.

"We'll be happy to work with whoever is in a Palestinian government that supports the principles," the US spokesperson added.

Crowley was referring to the conditions of the international Quartet (the US, EU, UN, and Russia) which stipulate that any Palestinian government must recognize Israel and renounce armed struggle.

Al-Ashkar, the Hamas official, also commented on this pronouncement. “What is required is a government that meets the wishes of the Palestinian people and defends their rights, not a government that is subject to the Quartet conditions, as we consider them unfair and we cannot accept them.”

Ma’an journalists contributed reporting from Gaza and Bethlehem.
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1 ) Jonas / London
14/10/2009 12:00
How can one "unilaterally" sign a deal between two parties? That is a total non-sequitur.

2 ) 2 Jonas / no man's land
14/10/2009 12:33
Think unilateral declaration that they will abide terms of the agreement, I suppose.

3 ) Assad / USA
14/10/2009 13:50
why legitimize PLO/PA when it is about to be overthrown....wait awhile and see what gov. the West Bank comes up with...Abbas and his gov. are all but gone and any agreement with it would bolster it...the next gov. may be in sync with Hamas anyway

4 ) Assad / USA
14/10/2009 14:22
signing the agreement would also bolster Mubarak who is under domestic fire for his part in 'cast lead'...keeping rafah crossing closed so the was no way to eacape the hell on earth the zionist made of gaza...if Mubarak gets a unity deal he can say 'see i love palestinians'

5 ) Assad / USA
14/10/2009 15:29
1- No one is over throwing anyone in the WB...Keith Dayton will make sure of that.
2- No one is gonna bother mubarak in egypt...his police has a handle on the people...and their propoganda has brainwashed their people.

6 ) Continued...to Assad / USA
14/10/2009 15:30
3- Even though it is dirty politics, they must reconcile ASAP. Israel is loving the division.

7 ) Assad / USA
14/10/2009 15:52
to the obvious second assad/USA....Abbas's PA is controlled by zionist and dayton....doing things right while it may not overthrow the thugs today will shorten their control....PA's zionist masters are having a hard time keeping control in the stolen land...dayton can be recalled

8 ) Assad / USA
14/10/2009 15:54
to assad2 ..would you sign a reconcilliation with the dejal for peace on earth?

9 ) Assad / USA
14/10/2009 17:01
to assad2: the dejal cannot give you peace on earth...it is not in him....the PA under abbas cannot keep as deal for unity as shown by the previous saudi brokered unity government..mubarak cannot be an honest broker for anything

10 ) Yousef / Palestine
14/10/2009 19:23
your arguments are flawed. we need recompilation so that we can have free and fair elections in 2010. anyone looking for pretexts to over -throw one or the other is not thinking in the Palestinian Interest. We need to move on and have a functioning government that can be responsible for a state!

11 ) Assad / USA
14/10/2009 22:03
whatever Yousef...you do remember the last Unity Gov brokered by the saudi? fool me once....could i suggest getting rid of dahlan and abbas first befor pressing for a unity gov? and the PLO even w/o those two has not rid itself of corruption

12 ) Mohammed / USA
15/10/2009 02:45
Yousef, I wish it was that easy! the US has already stated that who ever the Palestinians vote for as a gov't, if the US does not agree with the slection then they will not recognize that gov't. So basically they are saying if the gov't is not selected by us, its not going to last.

13 ) Assad / USA
15/10/2009 20:27
Mohammed, wish it weren't true but it mean abbas and dahlan are winners even if they lose the election and a hamas signon to reconcillation is just an easy way to gain an illegal occupation of gaza by fatah

14 ) Dweikat / Palestine
15/10/2009 21:03
Assad/USA get a life and go play with the hamasthugs/zionist.. go play with hamas who is a puppet of the shia/iran.if you say fatah has dayton..then I say..hamas has ahmedinajad..you are the zionist who is not thinking in the palestinian interest but in enlarging the split.shame on you enemy of Pala
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