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Hamas Backs Proposal to Have Abbas Head Interim Gov't

Hamas endorses Qatar's proposal that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas serve as prime minister in an interim unity government.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/6/2012, 4:02 AM

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas
Flash 90

Hamas has endorsed a proposal by Qatar that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas assume the role of prime minister in an interim unity government that would prepare for general elections, The Associated Press reported on Sunday, citing to two officials close to the contacts.

The arrangement, which was proposed by Qatar's emir during Abbas and Mashaal’s meeting in Doha, would help Abbas’ Fatah faction and Hamas clear a major hurdle in slow-moving attempts to reconcile.

The two officials told AP that Abbas said in the meetings that he would consider the idea.

AP cited a Hamas website which quoted a source close to the talks as saying Abbas and Mashaal agreed in principle that Abbas would head the interim government. Abbas and Mashaal are to meet again Monday, the report said.

Sunday’s meeting, postponed from a meeting cancelled last Thursday, is intended to further a discussion on the formation of a Palestinian Authority unity government that technically was to follow an agreement signed last May

The agreement reached between the two parties set out a path to elections within a year and the appointment of an interim government, but the parties could not agree on a candidate to lead the unity government. A much ballyhooed announcement by the two sides that Hamas would join the PLO has also failed to bear fruit, and both sides recently admitted that elections in May are unlikely.

During Sunday’s three-hour meeting in Qatar, Abbas and Mashaal did not discuss the names of other possible members of an interim government, the officials said. The transitional government is to be composed of experts without strong political affiliations.

The officials added that on Monday, Abbas and Mashaal will discuss delaying the elections to the end of the year. They said delegations from Hamas and Fatah will hold more meetings in coming days.