JERUSALEM – World leaders have hailed Palestine's historical reconciliation agreement that ends the longstanding schism between rivals Fatah and Hamas, amid hopes to bring unity after seven years of separation.
“We welcome the agreement between the Fatah and Hamas delegations on April 23 for the establishment of a unity government and to go to elections,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement cited by Hurriyet Daily News on Thursday, April 24.
After a two-day talks, rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas reached an agreement to form a unity government within five weeks and hold national elections in six months.
“An agreement has been reached on the formation within five weeks of an independent government headed by president Mahmud Abbas,” they said in a joint statement.
Under the new pact, the terms of both 2011 and 2012 agreements signed between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo and Doha would also be applied.
“I am happy to declare the end of the period of inter-Palestinian division,” said Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
“We agreed to implement all the articles that were agreed in the past according to agreements in Doha and Cairo.”
“It is in the Palestinian people's interests to restore unity of land and unity of people,” said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in statement.
“This unity will boost the establishment of the Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.”
The long-awaited reconciliation deal reached between Palestinian rivals was welcomed by several countries as a first step to end the seven-year rift.
“Egypt hopes this deal will contribute to ending the Palestinian split and supporting the Palestinian position in peace talks with Israel,” Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said in a statement obtained by OnIslam.net.
Similar hopes were shared by China. “China welcomes the positive progress on Palestine's internal reconciliation and we congratulate it for this,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gangwas quoted by Xinhua.
“We are convinced that the deal will help build Palestine's internal solidarity. Fundamentally it will also help the ultimate realization of the Palestinian nation and the peaceful coexistence between Palestine and Israel.”
Away from world leaders' praise, Israel strongly opposed the deal, cancelling Wednesday's session of peace negotiations.
Moreover, Israel accused Fatah of abandoning peace and preferring Hamas.
“Whoever chooses Hamas does not want peace,” Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said in a statement cited by Al Jazeera.
“I said this morning that Abu Mazen (the Fatah-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) needs to choose between peace with Israel and an agreement with Hamas, a murderous terrorist organisation that calls for the destruction of Israel and which both the United States and the European Union define as a terrorist organization.”
However, President Abbas refuted Israel's allegations, stressing Palestine's commitment to peace talks.
“There is no contradiction at all as long as we are committed to the peace talks with Israel and we are totally committed to establishing a just and comprehensive peace based on the two-state principle,” said Abbas.
The unity pact, coming days before the April 29 expiration date for the American-brokered peace talks, has also surprised officials in Washington.
Secretary of State John Kerry’s spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, called the Palestinian move “disappointing” and the timing “troubling”, the New York Times reported.
“Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognition of the state of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations between the parties,” Psaki said, citing conditions Hamas has repeatedly rejected.
“It’s hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that does not believe in its right to exist.”
Hopes & Concerns
The signature of the milestone deal between Fatah and Hamas has sparked hope among thousands of Palestine who flocked to streets to celebrate the unity pact.
“I swear to God the division is dead; the division is out of the house, my people are happy,” yelled hundreds of Palestinians gathered in the Square of the Forgotten Soldier in central Gaza as the news started reaching people in the street.
“Unity, freedom, dignity and humanity,” they yelled and sang.
Ramallah resident Nur Hamad, said she supported reconciliation “because we have to be one nation.”
“No factions, only a Palestinian nation, but I don't think Fatah and Hamas are going to succeed,” Hamad said.
“We are saying to both Fatah and Hamas for the sake of Palestine and the Palestinian children, you must get unified against the Israeli occupation,” Mariam abu Daqqa, an activist in Gaza said.
Yet, announcing the reconciliation agreement has stirred up speculations among several Palestinians.
“I will believe in reconciliation if I touch it on the ground,” said Samah Ahmad.
“We're still looking for freedom; we're still looking for humanity; we want to feel we're one. I will believe it when I see it,”
Some believe that the reconciliation wouldn't do much to revive the stalled economy, they are calling for real measures that would secure stable economic development.
“Gaza needs everything, not only the economy - we need health care, we need the borders to be open and we need freedom of movement,” Ahmed said.
“Societal reconciliation is more important than political reconciliation, because we believe that the leaders can have a good relationship, but the reconciliation should be with the people themselves.”
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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