News / Middle East

    Hamas, Abbas's PLO Announce Reconciliation Agreement

    The head of the Hamas government Ismail Haniyeh shows a signed reconciliation agreement as he attends a news conference with Senior Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmed (L) in Gaza City, Apr. 23, 2014.
    The head of the Hamas government Ismail Haniyeh shows a signed reconciliation agreement as he attends a news conference with Senior Fatah official Azzam Al-Ahmed (L) in Gaza City, Apr. 23, 2014.
    Reuters
    The Gaza-based Islamist group Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed on Wednesday to a unity pact, both sides announced in a joint news conference.

    The move, coming after a long line of failed efforts to reconcile after seven years of internal bickering, envisions a unity government within five weeks and national elections six months later.

    "This is the good news we tell our people: the era of division is over," Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh said to loud applause at a Palestinian press conference also attended by representatives of the PLO.

    Israel said after the announcement that Abbas had chosen Hamas over peace, and cancelled a session of U.S.-brokered talks with the Palestinians that had been scheduled for Wednesday night in Jerusalem.

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office that Abbas "chose Hamas and not peace.  Whoever chooses Hamas does not want peace."

    Israeli Channel 2 TV said Netanyahu would convene an emergency session of his security cabinet on Thursday to discuss his response.

    Along with the United States and the European Union, Israel views Hamas as a terrorist organization, and says Abbas' efforts to unify with the group show he is not serious about extending the troubled negotiations.

    The talks, aimed at ending its decades-old conflict with the Palestinians and establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, are scheduled to end on April 29.

    Palestinians have long hoped for a healing of the political rift between the PLO and militant Hamas, which won a Palestinian election in 2006 and seized control of the Gaza Strip from forces loyal to Western-backed Abbas in 2007.

    But reconciliation dreams have been dashed repeatedly in the past. Since 2011, Hamas and Fatah have failed to implement an Egyptian-brokered unity deal because of disputes over power-sharing and the handling of the conflict with Israel.

    Hamas has battled Israel, which it refuses to recognize, while Abbas's Fatah party has remained in control of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank and pursued years of fruitless talks with Israel.

    Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said the unity pact would not interfere with peace efforts.

    "There's no contradiction at all between unity and talks, and we're committed to establishing a just peace based on a two-state solution," he said in a statement following the deal.

    Arab approval

    Egypt's foreign minister Nabil Fahmy welcomed the deal, saying in a statement he hoped it would "support the Palestinian position in the peace talks".

    Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah congratulated the Hamas prime minister, a TV channel run by the group said.

    The approval of the two influential Arab states, which have been at loggerheads over the role of the Muslim Brotherhood of which Hamas is an offshoot, implied the agreement had backing from the region as a whole.

    The deal could give Abbas a measure of sovereignty in Gaza and help Hamas, hemmed in by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, become less isolated.

    But Gaza analyst Talal Okal noted that previous unity agreements signed with great fanfare had amounted to nothing, and the future of this deal may depend on whether the sides agree to extend U.S.-brokered peace talks.

    "Will it materialize or not? Let's wait for April 29. What will happen if negotiations are extended?" Okal said.

    Minutes after the announcement, Israel launched an air strike on northern Gaza, wounding 12 people, including several small children, local medical officials said.

    The Israeli military said in a statement it had carried out a "counter-terrorism operation in the northern Gaza Strip," and that it had not identified a hit, suggesting it may have missed its target.

    U.S. Secretary of state John Kerry revived the peace talks in July after a nearly three-year hiatus.

    The negotiations stalled this month when Israel refused to carry out the last of four waves of prisoner releases unless it received assurances the Palestinian leadership would continue the talks beyond the end of April.

    After Israel failed to free the prisoners, Abbas responded by signing 15 international treaties, including the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war and occupations. Israel condemned the move as a unilateral step toward statehood.

    Talks were last held on Tuesday, with no reported progress.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.