News / Middle East

    Palestinian Rivals Agree to Form Unity Government

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (L-R) talk before an agreement signing ceremony in Doha, Qatar, February 6, 2012.
    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (L-R) talk before an agreement signing ceremony in Doha, Qatar, February 6, 2012.

    The leaders of the rival Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas announced they have agreed to form an interim unity government led by Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority.

    Abbas and Khaled Meshaal, head of the militant Islamist Hamas, said Monday the two groups would move forward without delay to form a government of independent technocrats, paving the way for presidential and parliamentary elections possibly later this year. No specific timetable was set.

    The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who sponsored the talks, sat between the rival Palestinian leaders as they announced the deal in Doha.

    Fatah and Hamas Relations Since 2007

    • June, 2007: After an election, Hamas takes control of Gaza. Fatah stays in control of the West Bank.
    • June, 2008: The two sides agree to talks, which are not held.
    • March, 2009: The two sides begin talks in Cairo.
    • November, 2010: Talks in Damascus fail to make more progress.
    • May, 2011: Fatah, Hamas sign a reconciliation deal.
    • February, 2012: Fatah, Hamas agree to form a unity government.

    Fatah and Hamas had reached a reconciliation accord last year but were unable to agree on a candidate for prime minister. The current Palestinian premier, the Western-backed Salam Fayyad, would have to step down if a transitional government is formed. Fayyad said he welcomed the pact and is ready to implement it, as did Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas' prime minister in Gaza.

    Both sides said they are serious about carrying out the new agreement. Meshaal said it creates greater unity "in order to be free for facing the enemy," referring to Israel. Hamas is officially sworn to Israel's destruction, but says it is open to an indefinite cease-fire.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday it would be impossible to hold peace talks if the Palestinians go through with the pact. He said if Abbas implements the power-sharing deal, he has chosen to "abandon the way of peace and to choose Hamas," adding, "you cannot have it both ways."

    The United States, Europe and Israel all consider Hamas a terrorist organization. The West and Israel say they will not deal with a Palestinian entity that includes the Islamist group unless it recognizes Israel, renounces violence and accepts all previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.

    The more moderate, Abbas-led Palestinian Authority supports a negotiated peace with Israel that would give Palestinians an independent state in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and in Gaza, co-existing alongside the Jewish state.

    The deal, known as the "Doha Declaration," also calls for rebuilding Gaza, which has been largely cut off from the world as part of an Israeli-Egyptian border blockade, imposed after Hamas took over the Palestinian territory in 2007. The blockade was eased in the past year, but not enough to revive Gaza's economy.

    Hamas won a landslide victory in Palestinian elections in 2006. It wrested control of Gaza from forces loyal to Abbas's Fatah movement after months of factional unrest, splitting the Palestinian territories into rival camps.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

    Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.