Fayyad may quit for sake of Palestinian unity

RAMALLAH, West Bank Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:01am EST

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RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad signaled on Monday he is ready to step aside to help reconcile the two rival factions of the Palestinian national movement and pave the way for presidential and parliamentary elections.

The departure of the U.S.-educated former World Bank economist, 59, would be a concession by President Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the mainly secular Fatah movement which is dominant in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, to his Islamist rivals Hamas, who control the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip.

Abbas will call in a speech on Wednesday for a government of independent experts to prepare for the elections, presidential adviser Nemir Hammad told Reuters.

This scenario was part of a reconciliation deal signed last April but never implemented. Elections were last held in 2006.

Abbas is also due to hold face-to-face talks in Cairo this month with his arch-rival, the exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. One official said the meeting could bring reconciliation closer "should Abbas abandon his commitment to Fayyad" as his candidate to head the caretaker government.

Fayyad, appointed by Abbas in 2007, is credited with revitalizing the economy and building institutions needed to set the Palestinian Authority on the path to full statehood. But Hamas, which accuses him of helping Israel to blockade the Gaza Strip, has never recognized him.

"I say again it is time to end division," Fayyad told the Al-Quds newspaper. "I call upon all factions and political parties to agree on a new prime minister. I was never an obstacle to the implementation of the reconciliation and I refuse to be used as a pretext for continuing the split."

PEACE TALKS DEADLOCKED

International mediators saw Palestinian negotiators in Jerusalem on Monday in a bid to restart stalled talks with Israel on a peace deal to end the 63-year-old conflict. Hamas has no role in the talks and is not seeking one.

Envoys of the so-called Middle East Quartet -- the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations -- were meeting separately with Israelis and Palestinians in an effort to relaunch direct negotiations that were suspended a year ago.

But there was no end to the deadlock over Israel's West Bank settlement building and Palestinian demands that it cease.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat repeated that settlements and a two-state solution were mutually exclusive.

Israeli officials say reconciliation of the two Palestinian movements would wreck the peace process for good, since Hamas refuses even to recognize Israel, let alone sign a peace treaty.

Abbas says the process has yielded nothing for the Palestinian people over the past 20 years. He is pursuing an alternative course to statehood by seeking international recognition without waiting any longer for the elusive peace agreement.

But reconciliation is imperative. The longer Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza lead separate lives under separate leaders, the greater the chance of permanent division creating two separate 'Palestines'.

The territories are separated by about 30 kms (20 miles) of Israeli territory and an ideological gulf that shows no real sign of narrowing since Hamas ejected Fatah from the Gaza enclave in a brief civil war in 2007.

For peace talk purposes, Abbas and his Palestinian Authority formally govern both parts of what would be the future Palestinian state. But that is far from the reality.

"Two entities have developed. An Islamist model in Gaza and a different one in the West Bank," says Gaza-based political analyst Talal Okal.

Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza and Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; Writing by Douglas Hamilton; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

(Reporting by Nidal Almughrabi)

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Comments (3)
sothatsit wrote:
WoW! What a complicated mess! I cant imagine how Israel lives in such chaos with enemy’s in its midst. What a testament to human endurance the Israeli’s are. Too hold at bay there sworn enemies for so many years, without barbarically eliminating them, like so many other country’s have done to the Jews for thousands of years, is amazing!Israel sets an enormous example to all civilized peoples of the world of tolerance and patience. Look at whats happening next door to Israel right now in Syria. Theres another example of the difference between the values of life and freedom in contrast to Israels beliefs. I hope the Palestinians can organize their leadership to be able to sit down at a table with the Israeli’s to create a true and lasting Peace agreement that does demand Israel give up its ability to maintain its self preservation. False demands will not work. Israel will sacrifice peace for there own survival if necessary. Israel has made MAJOR concessions over the decades with peace-for-land deals that seem to work for there neighbor Arab country’s, but always seem to fail for their neighboring Palestinians residents. I will remain optimistic for the Israeli’s and the Palestinians to get a true and lasting peace beneficial to both party’s, without jeopardizing Israel’s existence.

Nov 14, 2011 11:04am EST  --  Report as abuse
sothatsit wrote:
Peace agreement that does demand Israel give up its ability to maintain its self preservation.

Nov 14, 2011 11:14am EST  --  Report as abuse
miller57 wrote:
“Israel has made major concessions of land for peace in the past” WRONG! Israel has never done this. Only given up land they occupied after one of the wars, AND they STILL hold onto more land still than they were originally given by UN mandate back in the late 40′s.
Right now the only land they have given to the Palestinians is surrounded by Israel land, contains no sea port, and is blockaded and its indiginous people are not permitted to travel between the two largest pieces. The story of failed middle east peace is only partly due to hot headed Palestinian activism like Hamas. Its real, behind the scenes, failure is due to greed and racism on the part of Orthodox Jews who think they have some kind of holy right to this land based on a book thousands of years old, and that all other peoples on it, including ones who occupied it for millenia after most of the Jews left, are expendable.

Nov 15, 2011 10:50am EST  --  Report as abuse
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