By The Associated Press
The Palestinian foreign minister has blamed the Fatah Party and its leader,
Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, for delaying the formation of a national
unity government with Hamas.
Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas official, said Abbas' desire to create
a technocrat government was a "dangerous" recession and unacceptable.
"There was a regression in Fatah and Abbas' stance from the national
reconciliation document," Zahar said in the Syrian capital late Thursday after
meeting with Palestinian radical factions.
He added that if a new government is not formed, the current Hamas-led
government would continue to operate. He also repeated the militant group's
stance that it would not approve any government that recognizes Israel and
renounces violence against it.
Fatah and Hamas have been discussing the idea of a coalition government for
months, but have been unable to reach a deal. The delay comes amid increased
violence in the Gaza Strip. On Friday, IDF soldiers killed two Palestinians,
including a 10-year-old boy, and militants fired at least two rockets at
nearby Israeli towns. Those deaths came a day after a 64-year-old Palestinian
grandmother blew herself up alongside Israeli troops, killing herself and
lightly wounding two soldiers.
Hamas officials believe that the technocrat government would take a vague
position toward Israel and focus on internal Palestinian affairs, while
allowing Abbas to pursue peace talks with Israel.
Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip, said Hamas is interested
in making the negotiations succeed, "but there seems to be new conditions that
are unnecessary. "
"There is a regression in what we agreed upon and this is unacceptable,"
Economic sanctions and the cutoff of hundreds of millions of dollars in annual
aid from the EU and the United States have debilitated the Palestinians and
have led to clashes between Hamas and Fatah.
Efforts to form national unity cabinet between Hamas and Abbas's Fatah are
seen as integral to ending the international boycott on Hamas-led government.
In Cairo, meanwhile, Hamas's exiled political leader Khaled Mashaal continued
his talks with Egyptian officials.
Hamas officials and the Egyptian government were not providing details about
the discussions other than to say they focused on forming a national unity
government, securing a prisoner exchange with Israel and lifting the Israeli
blockade against Palestinians.
"There are still a lot of efforts," concerning the prisoner exchange
negotiations, said Moussa Abu Marzouk, Mashaal's deputy, in a telephone
interview in Damascus. But no deal has been reached, he said.
Mashaal, who lives in exile in Syria, arrived Cairo late Wednesday and met
with Egypt's powerful intelligence chief Omar Suleiman on Thursday.
In an interview the state-run Middle East News Agency, President Hosni Mubarak
said Egypt was sparing no effort to help the Palestinians in finding a
solution to the current crisis.
"Negotiations and dialogue between the Palestinian factions is the only way to
find a way out of the current stalemate that the Palestinian case is passing
through," MENA quoted Mubarak as saying.
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