Rival Palestinian factions agree on unity government, elections

Palestinian Liberation Organization members from the West Bank and Hamas officials agreed in talks in Gaza City to form a government of national unity within “the next five weeks.” They have not decided on a provisional prime minister. Elections to president, the legislative council and Palestinian National Council will take place six months after the unity government is formed.
Hamas is totally opposed to the Palestinian negotiations with Israel and refuses to renounce force. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman have warned Mahmoud Abbas that he must choose between peace negotiations with Israel and a unity accord with the radical Hamas. The latter would bring the negotiations to a close.

The two Palestinian factions have more than once agreed on reconciliation and unity to end the division between the two territories and the factions which rule them. Those accords failed time and time again amid mutual recriminations. The PLO delegation was led by Azzam al-Ahmad and the Hamas party by Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya and deputy party leader Mussa Abu Marzuq.

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