The Guardian reports: The rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have agreed to form a new unity government in the West Bank and Gaza, which will be headed by Mahmoud Abbas, it was announced on Monday.
Reconciliation talks between the two factions have struggled to make progress since an agreement in principle was signed last spring. A major issue has been who would lead the government. Hamas insisted on the removal of the present prime minister, Salam Fayyad, who has strong western backing for the progress he has made on building the institutions of a future Palestinian state.
Abbas and the exiled Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, who has been pushing for reconciliation, agreed at a meeting in Qatar on the formation of the new government of independent technocrats, led by Abbas, which will be in place until elections can be held.
Meshaal said: “We are serious, both Fatah and Hamas, in healing the wounds and ending the chapter of division and reinforcing and accomplishing reconciliation.” Rapprochement was necessary “to resist the enemy and achieve our national goals”, he added.
The agreement would be “implemented in the shortest time possible”, Abbas said.
Fayyad “warmly welcomed” Monday’s agreement, a Palestinian spokesman told the Associated Press. It was unclear whether he would remain in the government after stepping down as prime minister.