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

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

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.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid