News / Middle East

Palestinians' Abbas Says to Start Talks on Unity Government

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a flag-raising ceremony to inaugurate the new Palestinian embassy in Bayan, Kuwait, April 15, 2013.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a flag-raising ceremony to inaugurate the new Palestinian embassy in Bayan, Kuwait, April 15, 2013.
Reuters
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday he would begin talks with rival factions including Islamist Hamas to form a unity government, a crucial step towards healing years of damaging internal divisions.
    
But, underscoring the chasm between Abbas's Fatah movement and Hamas, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Abbas had not consulted his group about his move and the Islamists had only heard about it in media reports.
    
Hamas and Western-backed Abbas, who heads the more secular Fatah that holds sway in self-rule areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, have been at loggerheads since Hamas seized the Gaza Strip in a brief civil war in 2007.
    
Past unity attempts have foundered because Hamas and Fatah have been unable to agree a joint agenda, above all on how to handle the conflict with Israel. Hamas is committed to Israel's destruction while Fatah supports a negotiated solution providing for a Palestinian state co-existing alongside Israel.
    
The need to form a new administration was prompted by the resignation earlier this month of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad because of a rift between him and Abbas and it has created an opportunity for Abbas to forge a unity government.
    
Abbas published a statement on the Palestinian official news agency, WAFA, on Saturday urging factions "to cooperate" with his effort to form a national unity government that would be charged with readying presidential and parliamentary elections.
    
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 Organization (PLO), the Palestinians' highest decision-making body led by Abbas, 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 told Reuters.
    
Abu Zuhri said holding elections was not possible under the current circumstances in the West Bank because Israel maintained overall control of the territory and Fatah continued to arrest Hamas men and curb their freedoms.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid