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Saturday, December 2, 2006

Solana: Hamas missed opportunity for forming PA unity gov't

Last update - 20:42 02/12/2006

Solana: Hamas missed opportunity for forming PA unity gov't

By News Agencies and Haaretz Service

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the collapse of unity government
talks killed hopes of ending the international economic sanctions on the
Palestinian government and said Hamas missed its opportunity.

"Very sadly, I have to say the chance has been lost," he told reporters after
meeting with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

"Some conditions have to be met in order to have full cooperation with the
international community and the president (Abbas) has made tremendous efforts
... It has been impossible for the moment to get these conditions accepted (by
the Hamas government) and therefore the situation (sanctions) will continue,
but everybody has to know who is responsible ... It is not the president,"
Solana said, referring to Abbas.


Hamas on Saturday rejected a call by the Palestinian Liberation Organization's
Executive Committee for Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to resign in light of
the failed talks with Fatah for forming a unity government, Israel Radio

Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the group "could not accept such a step
that contradicts [the principles of] Palestinian democracy and the election
results. The PLO does not represent the Palestinian people," the radio quoted
Barhoum as saying.

Earlier on Saturday, a leading member of Palestinian Authority Chairman
Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party said early elections should be held in order to
resolve the political standoff with the Islamic militant group Hamas.

Six months of failed negotiations with Hamas on forming a coalition government
with Fatah have made it clear that Hamas is unwilling to share power, said
Azzam al-Ahmed, the head of the Fatah bloc in parliament.

Al-Ahmed is a member of a five-member committee formed Friday to present
recommendations to Abbas on what to do next to end the deadlock.

The committee is leaning toward recommending early presidential and
legislative elections, Al-Ahmed said.

"The trend within this committee is to recommend early elections," he said.
"This choice, the early election, will be much better than the current
situation, even if Fatah lost both the presidential and parliament elections."

"We are completely paralyzed. This authority is paralyzed. Let us go to our
people, and tell them the truth, and let them decide what they want," he said.

Al-Ahmed's recommendations came a day after the Palestine Liberation
Organization Executive Committee called on Haniyeh to resign due to stalled
talks on the formation of a Palestinian unity government.

"The executive committee asks Haniyeh to resign to pave the way for the
formation of a new government," committee member Samir Ghosheh said.

Abbas announced at a press conference with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice on Thursday that the talks with Hamas on the establishment of a
government of national unity have reached a "dead end."

Abbas told top PLO officials during a special session in Ramallah on Friday
that Hamas was to blame for the talks' failure. "Abbas stressed that there
would be no dialogue with Hamas," said Tayseer Khaled, a member of the PLO's
executive committee. "He said the dialogue ended and that Hamas bears the
responsibility for the failure of the talks."

Abbas, who is also head of the PLO, headed to the Gaza Strip to update
Palestinian faction leaders on the session.

Meanwhile Haniyeh, speaking in Cairo, denied that the talks have failed. Hamas
has dismissed Abbas' declaration as a pressure tactic in the negotiations on
forming a national unity government.

With the talks deadlocked, Abbas plans to address the Palestinian people "very
soon" to discuss his next move, a top Abbas aide, Saeb Erekat, said.

Abbas has formed a committee that will meet Saturday to look at his options
for the future, Erekat said.

The PA chairman has two options - fire the Hamas-led government or hold a
referendum on whether to call early elections. If he dismisses the Hamas
ministers, a new government he appoints would be blocked in the
Hamas-dominated parliament, leading to a constitutional crisis that could also
force elections.

Recent polls have shown that Abbas' Fatah Party would not have enough support
to oust Hamas in new elections.

The PA chairman recently proposed a compromise formula for uniting the various
Palestinian factions, which also aims to bypass the preconditions of the
international community for lifting sanctions against the Palestinian
Authority. However, his proposal has stalled over disagreements on which
ministerial portfolios would go to each faction.

Abbas said he wants to establish a government that will bring an end to the
siege on the Palestinian people, adding that "as far as I'm concerned, I don't
care who sits in it."

According to the Abbas formula, the details of which have been made available
to Israel and the Quartet (the United States, European Union, United Nations
and Russia), Abbas will present the new government to the Palestinian
parliament, as well as basic guidelines to which the ministers will commit.

Among the guidelines will be recognition of previous agreements signed between
Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, including those stipulating
the disarmament of all Palestinian factions.

In his speech at the Palestinian parliament, Abbas is expected to reiterate
the government's commitment to the Oslo Accords, and its intention to continue
their negotiations with Israel because "that is [its] strategic, political and
realistic choice."

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