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Palestinian groups leaders sign deal in Mecca

2007-02-10

Rival Palestinian leaders have signed a deal to form a government of national unity aim at ending lethal infighting and a crippling international boycott. According to the agreement, the Palestinian blood is a redline that cannot be crossed. It also sets out the principles of the unity government and reactivating the PLO. The two parties agreed to end internecine fighting and to work toward consolidating national unity.

The deal, mediated by Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, was confirmed at a signing ceremony in Mecca on February 8th 2007. The deal sets out the principles of the coalition government, including a promise that it will "respect" previous peace deals with Israel, delegates said. Mahmmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and leader of Fatah, asked Ismail Haniya, the current Hamas-nominated prime minister, to form the new government. The key post of interior minister will go to an independent while Fatah will name a deputy prime minister. Under the initial agreement, Hamas would take nine posts in a new government. Another six would go to Fatah and one each to four other parties in parliament. Along with the interior portfolio, independents would also get foreign affairs and finance.

An Israeli government spokeswomen Reacting to the agreement, said that any new Palestinian unity government must abide by previous Western demands regarding the Jewish state, "Israel expects the new Palestinian government to accept and respect all three of the international community‘s principles - recognition of Israel, acceptance of all former treaties and a clear renunciation of all terror and violence," said the spokeswoman in the office of the Israeli prime minister. The British foreign secretary welcomed what she described as an "important" agreement between rival Palestinian factions.

The Islamic Jihad pledged that it would cooperate with the new Palestinian Authority unity government, a day after Fatah and Hamas leaders announced in Mecca that they had finally struck a deal on the issue. "The Islamic Jihad will support the new government so that it can succeed in its task," said Nafez Azam, one of the organization‘s leaders in the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reported. A senior Hamas official said Thursday that Saudi Arabia promised $1 billion in aid to the Palestinians after Hamas and Fatah delegates reached a breakthrough.

The two parties also agreed that the political platform of the unity government would not require Hamas to abide by previous agreements signed between the PLO and Israel, one of the three conditions the Quartet had set for granting the Hamas government legitimacy.  Instead, moreover, the Fatah-Hamas agreement does not require the unity government to explicitly recognize Israel‘s right to exist or Hamas to renounce violence, which was another of the Quartet‘s requirements.
The unity government has been asked to "honor" the agreements with Israel, as well as resolutions of the United Nations and Arab summits pertaining to the Israeli-Arab conflict. Even if they are part of unity government that accepts the Quartet principles the US government would continue to boycott Hamas ministers, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Jewish leaders in a closed

Source: ATF and agencies


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