Abbas: Reconciliation with Hamas Doesn't Conflict with Peace
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told the U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, David Hale, that the reconciliation between his Fatah movement and Hamas does not contradict with the peace process, the PA-based WAFA news agency reported.
Abbas made the remarks during a meeting with Hale in Ramallah on Wednesday, adding that peace is his strategic choice and reconciliation is a national need.
The report added that Abbas said the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is committed to all its obligations that came in the signed agreements, the road map and relevant international resolutions.
Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, the PLO was allowed to establish the PA as the administrative organ for its enclaves in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza after Yasser Arafat and then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin exchanged "mutual letters of recognition."
Repeating previous preconditions, Abbas called on the Israeli government to accept the two-state solution, halt construction of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and release prisoners, particularly those arrested before 1993.
He said that these are not conditions for negotiations but rather Israeli obligations which, if implemented, will pave the way for resumption of final status negotiations.
Earlier this week, Abbas and the head of Hamas' political bureau, Khaled Mashaal, met in Qatar and signed an agreement according to which Abbas will head the interim government, which will be made up of "independent technocrats."
On Tuesday, a member of the central committee of Fatah said the new PA interim government will be presented on February 18 in Cairo.
Earlier on Wednesday, Fatah official Nabil Shaath said the new interim PA government "need not recognize Israel."
"It is the PLO, not the PA, that recognizes Israel," Shaath insisted in an interview with the Hamas-affiliated Arabic-language Al Quds, in an attempt to justify forming a unity government with Hamas, which continues to call for Israel's destruction.
Shaath's statements run counter to clear conditions set by the Quartet for Middle East Peace - the European Union, Russia, United Nations, and United States - for Hamas to be included in a PA government.
Quartet officials have said Hamas must recognize Israel's right to exist, formally abandon terrorism and violence, and uphold agreements signed by previous PA governments with Israel and any other entity.
Hamas refuses to recognize Israel, continues to call for Israel's destruction while pursuing terrorism as its principle means of "resistance" against the Jewish state.