Accusing the Islamic militant group Hamas of backtracking, moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned on Saturday that his efforts to set up a national unity government that is acceptable to the West are "back to zero."
Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said Friday he would not lead a coalition that recognizes Israel, dealing a blow Abbas' attempts to form a power-sharing government between his ousted Fatah group and Hamas.
On Saturday, Hamas officials suggested that Abbas had oversold the emerging coalition to the international community, portraying it as more conciliatory toward Israel than it was meant to be. Despite Abbas' pessimism, Hamas insisted a deal could still be struck.
Abbas is to meet with Hamas leaders in Gaza on Monday.
The latest setback comes at a time of growing tensions between Hamas and Fatah, particularly in the Gaza Strip, where some Fatah members have accused Hamas of involvement in the assassination of a Fatah-allied security chief last week. If the rival factions fail to reach agreement, more violent confrontations appear inevitable. ...
Hamas fears it will lose popular support if it softens its hardline positions too much and becomes indistinguishable from Fatah. Recent polls indicate that a majority of Palestinians don't want Hamas to recognize Israel, perhaps as a matter of pride, even though two-thirds also want Abbas to negotiate a peace deal with the Jewish state.
UPDATE -- Sept. 24: From FoxNews: Hamas, Fatah Talks on Forming Palestinian Unity Government Break Down.
Rivals Hamas and Fatah called off top-level talks Monday on forming a Palestinian unity government that might ease crippling international sanctions, the latest indication of difficulties in bridging their ideological differences.
Posted by Forkum at September 24, 2006 03:09 PM