News / Middle East

Palestinians Sign Unity Deal in Cairo

A Palestinian holds up a flag as he celebrates the reconciliation agreement between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas during a rally in Gaza City, May 4, 2011
A Palestinian holds up a flag as he celebrates the reconciliation agreement between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas during a rally in Gaza City, May 4, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Elizabeth Arrott

The leaders of the Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have agreed to reconcile, under a deal criticized by Israel.

The reconciliation deal aims to unify the rival Palestinian governments with an interim government leading to elections next year. After a brief, last minute delay, the ceremony got underway with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and foreign dignitaries in attendance.

While the planned caretaker government has been described by Fatah officials as an independent body of technocrats, Meshaal struck a more political tone.

The Hamas leader told the gathering that "the black page of division" was behind them, and that the only real battle is with "the occupier"  -  a reference to Israel.

Israel has condemned the deal, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday saying it is "a tremendous blow to peace and a great victory for terrorism,"

Netanyahu has urged Abbas to choose "peace with Israel" over any deal with Hamas - considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States.

Hamas, which does not recognize Israel, is said to be willing to honor an unofficial truce.

But Meshaal's statement, as well as continued attacks from Gaza on Israel, are likely to undermine any Israeli confidence in that position.

President Abbas also took the occasion to challenge Israel, saying it must choose between peace and settlements. Israeli building on Palestinian lands has proved a key obstacle to the peace process.

Among supporters of Palestinian statehood, the deal in Cairo is seen as the only way to move forward and end the rivalry which has split the Palestinian movement for the past four years amid fighting over control of Gaza.

"The real issue is to get together, speak with one voice, to pave the way for the future," said Hassan Nafae, a political science professor at Cairo University. "And this is a very, very important step and I think without it nothing will happen at all."

Egypt's role in cementing the deal comes as the new government in Cairo indicated it would open the Rafah border crossing to Gaza and ease the pressure of an Israeli blockade.

Whether this played a role in bringing the two sides together is unclear, although Egypt had worked in vain for reconciliation for years. 

"Once you have a unified government there will be no pretext at all to continue the closure of Rafah," said Nafae.

Egypt under former President Hosni Mubarak had closed Rafah after the Hamas victory in Gaza in 2007, citing Cairo's commitments to existing peace deals. The old government also used the threat of militancy spilling into Egypt as another reason to keep the crossing strictly controlled.

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid