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PA ready for reconciliation with Hamas 'at any price'
Published Friday 20/12/2013 (updated) 23/12/2013 10:06
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Palestinians hold a rally in the West Bank calling for reconciliation.
(MaanImages/file)

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A senior PLO official said Thursday that the Palestinian Authority was ready for reconciliation with Hamas "at any price," signaling a new openness to engage with its rival party amid deadlocked peace talks with Israel.

"We are ready for reconciliation tomorrow," Mohammad Shtayyeh told reporters hours after Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called on President Mahmoud Abbas to form a unity government in a landmark speech in Gaza City.

The PA's goal is a coalition government that includes Hamas, Shtayyeh said.

"We are ready to accommodate Hamas within the structure of the PLO."

But the official said Hamas had not shown willingness to form a true unity government, with one leader presiding over both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Instead, he says, Hamas is calling for "an agreed-upon government" to include two separate leaders but with shared municipal oversight.

Earlier in December, PA officials discussed reconciliation with Hamas leaders in Qatar, where Shtayyeh said talks were held that showed "good signs" for the possibility of a solution to the seven years of stalemate between the two factions.

Shtayyeh denied suggestions that discussions of reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah were taking place due to renewed peace talks with Israel. On the contrary, he said reconciliation would "enforce" and further legitimize "the Palestinian delegation at the negotiating table."

At the same time, political realities make Hamas' inclusion unlikely as both Israel and the United States consider it a terrorist organization, while Hamas opposes the current round of talks with Israel.

"Israel will block any Palestinian-Palestinian reconciliation," Shtayyeh said, "even though on the negotiating table they will tell you, 'Well, what about Gaza? Do you speak for Gaza?'"

Criticizing Hamas' rejection of the talks, Shtayyeh said that "Every responsible Palestinian should be willing to (negotiate with Israel)."

Shtayyeh himself resigned from the Palestinian negotiation team in November after a bitter row over settlements.

"I did not believe that the Israeli government was actually serious about peace," he said.

'Only battle is against occupation'

In Gaza City on Thursday, Gaza PM Ismail Haniyeh called on Abbas to meet with Hamas to discuss reconciliation in line with an agreement reached in Cairo in 2012.

He said inter-Palestinian conflict encourages the Israeli occupation to continue.

"The only battle our people should fight is against occupation," Haniyeh said. "We should not be fighting any battles against Egypt or Ramallah or others."

Also Thursday, Gaza government spokeswoman Isra Almodallal told Ma'an that the faction was ready for elections and a "unity government." She said five government officials in Gaza had been designated to work on reconciliation.

"We can't face Egypt alone," Almodallal said, in reference to frequent closures of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, in addition to the country's recent destruction of hundreds of smuggling tunnels that before provided Gaza with much-needed goods throughout the ongoing Israeli blockade on the enclave.

While Hamas has been calling for a unity government for years, she said that due to international isolation and Gaza's recent humanitarian crisis in the wake of winter storm Alexa, Hamas "depends on" the PA.

Still, Almodallal restated Hamas' opposition to negotiations with Israel.

"It's very clear that we cannot accept negotiations. We're not against the idea of negotiations, but we're against the outcomes," she said, citing two decades of continued Israeli occupation, settlements, home demolitions, arrests, and killings that came in conjunction with negotiations.

The division between the two factions began in 2006, when Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections.

In the following year, clashes erupted between Fatah and Hamas, leaving Hamas in control of the Strip and Fatah in control of parts of the occupied West Bank.

The groups have made failed attempts at national reconciliation for years, most recently in 2012, when they signed two agreements -- one in Cairo and a subsequent one in Doha -- which have as of yet been entirely unimplemented.
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1 ) Outlier / USA
20/12/2013 19:46
Foolish. Also one guy writing checks with his mouth that the PA cannot afford to cash.

2 ) Unity / Government
20/12/2013 19:53
So now, under new unity government, each side would assume new roles: Abbas will be responsible woe the missiles production and deployment and Hanya will go to beg US and EU for money.

3 ) Tibi / Tubas
20/12/2013 20:47
THE PA LIES, since "at any price "should mean that
"The PLO is ready to be accommodated within the structure of" Hamas !!

4 ) southparkbear / us
21/12/2013 04:38
Love it or list it

5 ) ian / australia
21/12/2013 05:01
Pretty weird. It's certainly not democracy Australian style. Here we have two parties, everyone votes, one wins and becomes the elected government. Opposing parties don't have to "reconcile" or form a "unity government" or "accommodate" anyone "within the structure". (Our system does that through the rule of law.) Hamas and Fatah are political parties. Palestinians could vote to determine which will govern Palestine. I'm not saying it wouldn't be logistically tricky: Palestine is part occupied

6 ) Dimi / Germany
21/12/2013 10:29
"we cannot face Egypt alone","....we cannot accept negotiations...) (with Israel).How shall the reconcialation PA/Hamas work if they differ in the main points (Israel/Egypt)?

7 ) ian / australia
21/12/2013 12:37
(contd.) and part under siege and the parts are kept physically separate by the neighbour from Hell. But it would be a step towards something.

8 ) Um Muhammed / France
21/12/2013 14:58
People cling to what they know, for fear of change, They need to know that benefits of change outweigh consequences. They need to be able to trust & feel validated. Change is hard, especially in a conflict zone. Gaza has nothing now, even tunnelling is banned! What can Egypt offer instead, more Rafah, oversee Gaza for a while with help? Negotiations ARE taking place, Hamas has the chance to make history OR lose out in the process. Be far sighted, true peace means prosperity for ALL in the region

9 ) Hamas Fan / Ard Rabbina
21/12/2013 15:07
"It's very clear that we cannot accept negotiations. We're not against the idea of negotiations, but we're against the outcomes"... - HAMAS, I think you are great but you are getting older & the kids want to be 'Arab Idols' now, NOT rocket scientists. What do you have to lose by trying to join the negotiations & unifying with the PA as brothers. This is about Palestine, a future unity Gov is about sharing responsibility. IF you don't, they will shut u out & they'll go on WITHOUT you, think hard.

10 ) Anwar / Qatar
21/12/2013 15:20
PA & HAMAS have to both come to the table with the aim of ending not only their own disagreement, but with the intention of ending the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, which should be their primary aim! Everyone has choices, the PA has chosen to negotiate with Israel, Hamas can choose to unify with the PA & LEGITIMATELY join negotiations, show the world that it is serious about Palestine & peace, or go it's own way. At this crucial stage, it has limited choice & GAZA is in a bad way. Sad but true!

11 ) Camilla / Windsor, UK
21/12/2013 15:28
#5 - Ian: Given the current circumstances, logistically it makes sense for both parties to oversee their municipalities for the time being. I agree that in a democracy, such as that in Australia or UK, that it's one person, one vote, end result winning party or coalition rules. That said, the Palestinians are not at that stage yet, so they do need to at least make peace with each other to bring the bigger objective (a Palestinian State) forward. When that is near, they need to look at elections.

12 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
21/12/2013 17:52
Ian - you again show your ignorance of the reality here in the muddle east. We all know you have two major parties in Australia, just like there are two major Palestinian parties. What you fail to realize is that your political parties down under are unarmed. Silly dingo! Both Hamas and Fatah are armed to the teeth. They are not political parties, but also well armed militias and neither side will give in. Seriously, Ian. Come spend a year or two here so you learn something.

13 ) ma'ameen / UK
22/12/2013 20:58
After the Bat Yam bombing, it will be harder than ever for the authorities to continue maintaining that the recent surge of Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets are solo operations rather than a planned campaign by a terrorist organization.

14 ) ian / australia
23/12/2013 03:38
#2 "Silly dingo!" Ouch! I must be too full of Christmas cheer...looking forward, many years ahead, to when Hamas and Fatah's bloodthirsty past is ancient history and Palestinians live in a safe, stable state on the '67 borders with normal politics...like Australia...which would happen virtually overnight (if G-d wills it) and if Israel and people like you stopped working assiduously against it. Merry Christmas.
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