Palestinian talks still stalled on unity cabinet platform

March 19th, 2009 - 11:50 am ICT by IANS  

Gaza City/Cairo, March 19 (DPA) Palestinian factions had agreed in Cairo that the unity government they are trying to form will be a transitional one that would prepare for new elections to be held no later than Jan 25, 2010, Hamas has said.
But the sides had reached no breakthrough Wednesday on the government’s platform, with the main point of disagreement remaining whether it should endorse past interim peace deals signed by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), expressing recognition of Israel and calling for a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict.

That issue has been the main sticking points since rival Palestinian factions began the talks in Cairo.

They were also still debating the government’s “ministerial structure,” Fawzi Barhoum, a senior leader of the radical Islamist Hamas movement ruling the Gaza Strip, said in a written statement sent to journalists from Cairo.

He said the sides were still debating the political platform as well as the proposed government’s ministerial posts.

The main parties to the unity talks are Hamas and the secular Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, bitter rivals who have been locked in a relentless power struggle that culminated in Hamas violently seizing sole control of Gaza in June 2007.

But in all, 13 Palestinian factions are participating in the talks, which are discussing a range of internal Palestinian issues that also include reforming security forces and the Fatah-dominated PLO.

“We agreed on the nature of the upcoming government. The deal is to form a temporary transitional accordance unity government and work on preparing for the upcoming elections,” said Barhoum.

Barhoum said the sides had narrowed their gaps mainly on the issues of elections and security.

Despite the progress on on these two issues, Mushiar al-Masri, a Hamas legislator from Gaza, told DPA Wednesday that the talks had stalled because of the condition that the new government must accept international demands that it recognise Israel.

Other obstacles, he said, include the Palestinian Authority’s “decision-making policy, which is unstable because of external pressure and fully dependent on politicised foreign funds”.

Al-Massri also said that the Palestinian Authority’s continued arrests of Hamas supporters in West Bank contributed to the crisis.

Security forces under Hamas control have also arrested Fatah supporters in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan Wednesday echoed al-Massri’s remarks.

Fatah should “soften its stance on the controversial issues,” he said. “We will not agree to any government platform that includes recognition of Israel.”

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