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

Photogallery Ukraine: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East

And new United Nations report documents human rights abuses committed by both sides in conflict More

Locust Swarms Fill Antananarivo Skies

FAO-led control efforts halted plague More

South Africa’s Plan to Move Rhinos May Not Stop Poaching

Experts say international coordination needed to follow the money trail and bring down rhino horn kingpins 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid