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

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

Video Better Protective Suit Sought for Ebola Caregivers

Current suit is uncomfortable, requires too many steps for removal, increasing chance of deadly contact with virus More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week 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.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid