Hamas and Fatah are continuing to hold talks ahead of the planned elections, as stipulated in the unity pact signed between the sides recently.
Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Fatah movement, is scheduled to travel to Qatar later this week, where he will meet with the head of Hamas’s politburo, Khaled Mashaal, and discuss the implementation of the unity pact.
Meanwhile, Azzam Al-Ahmad, a member of the Fatah Central Committee who has been placed in charge of the reconciliation efforts, is to arrive this week in Gaza where he will hold talks with Hamas on the planned unity government.
As part of the Hamas-Fatah deal, Abbas will issue a "presidential decree" announcing the dates for elections, which PA officials said would likely take place within the next six months. The PA’s Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has already offered to step down to pave the way for a unity government
The unity government is supposed to be made up of independent figures, but a senior Hamas figure said this week that the group’s leadership decided to submit a candidate for the presidency.
Late Saturday, Hamas’s deputy leader, Mussa Abu Marzuq, declared that Hamas will never recognize Israel and will not accept the conditions laid out by the Middle East peacemaking Quartet. These remarks are contrary to ones made by Abbas last week, when he said that the new government will "obey my policy," and would "recognize Israel and reject violence and terrorism, and recognize international commitments.”
Israel reacted to the Hamas-Fatah deal by pulling out of the peace talks with the PA and imposing sanctions on it.
Last week, U.S. Senators Mark Kirk and Marco Rubio called on Secretary of State John Kerry to publicly state that there will be an immediate cut-off of relevant assistance to the PA, should its new unity government fail to comply with the detailed requirements set forth by the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006.