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Palestinian reconciliation on the horizon

Palestinian factions currently regard internal rift very seriously

Gulf News

Ramallah: The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) believes that the Israeli offensive in Gaza has opened the door to genuine reconciliation between rivals, Fatah and Hamas, with the Palestinian Leadership Framework to hold a meeting immediately after the UN General Assembly vote on upgrading the status of Palestine, a top official has claimed.

The official said that the meeting will include members of the PLO Executive Committee, secretary generals of the various Palestinian factions, the head of the Palestinian National Council and Palestinian independents in Cairo. “This meeting will aim at implementing what was agreed upon earlier in Cairo and Doha with far more seriousness and firmness,” Dr Wasel Abu Yousuf, a member of the PLO Executive Committee told Gulf News.

Abu Yousuf, who is also the General Coordinator of the Palestinian Factions in the West Bank, said that the Israeli offensive in Gaza may have ended but that Israeli aggression in the West Bank had been accelerated in an unprecedented way. “Following the Gaza offensive, Palestinians have fully grasped the importance of internal reconciliation and the damage the Palestinian question suffers due to the fatal rift,” he said.

Once the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is done with the UN General Assembly vote, he will call for a meeting for the Palestinian Leadership Framework. “The Palestinian factions currently regard the internal rift seriously and see great opportunities to achieve reconciliation in the very near future,” he stressed.

The Palestinian Territories face serious threats and challenges including the collapse of the Palestinian National Authority, suspension of foreign funds and the seizure of the Palestinian tax revenues and the various Palestinian factions have come to the conclusion that without Palestinian unity the situation will move from bad to the worse.

“The Palestinian bloodshed in Gaza has become the fuel for Palestinian internal reconciliation,” he said.

Abu Yousuf said the victorious Hamas is keen to achieve internal reconciliation and that the coming Leadership Framework will give the PLO the chance to evaluate Hamas’ readiness to implement what has been agreed upon. “We are very optimistic about the new stands of the various Palestinian factions following the Israeli offensive in Gaza,” he said.

“The Leadership Framework will address the obstacles which faced the earlier agreements and come up with new mechanisms to implement those agreements,” he said.

In May 2011, Fatah and Hamas agreed on mechanisms to bridge the gab between Fatah and Hamas and later in December 2011, new committees were set up to achieve an agreement. The issue of the person who leads the unity government to oversee the Palestinian elections, unify Palestinian institutions in Gaza and the West Bank and reconstruct Gaza was discussed, and Abbas himself was proposed for this position. In December, the Palestinian Election Commission was set up and sent to Gaza but Hamas later dismissed the committee and banned them from updating the Gaza residents’ elections records. Then the reconciliation efforts were stalled and frozen.

“The Israeli offensive against Gaza has opened new opportunities for Palestinian unity and reconciliation,” Abu Yousuf said.

“Palestinian reconciliation is a Palestinian national victory which is no less than our victory in Gaza and the UN General Assembly vote.”

In an apparent attempt to encourage reconciliation, Hamas has pardoned all prisoners involved in the armed struggle with its rival Fatah in 2006 when Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip dismissing Abbas’ forces from the coastal strip.

Hamas Government spokesman in Gaza, Taher Al Nunu announced the decision in a press conference in Gaza.

“This is an initial stage of Palestinian unity and reconciliation and Hamas has risen above such trivial matters,” he said.

Hamas will set up a committee to implement its governmental decision in a bid to achieve internal unity.