Palestinian Factions Give Differing Views of Unity Pact

(New York Times) Ethan Bronner - A day after the two main Palestinian factions announced surprise plans for a unity government, each side presented a different picture of what the accord means. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, said Thursday that because he was also chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization he remained in charge of peace efforts with Israel. The future unity government, he said, will have only two functions, to rebuild Gaza and set up elections within a year. Aides to Abbas said one central reason the two sides were reconciling after four years of enmity was that Hamas had suddenly found itself in a position of weakness. Hamas is based in Syria, which is in turmoil, and it may not be able to stay there over the long term. Moreover, the aides said, Egypt may be friendlier to Hamas than it was under Mubarak, but it is not heading down an Islamist path, as Hamas had hoped. Taher al-Nounou, a Hamas spokesman, said Hamas expected the PLO to be reconfigured after elections in a year. Ahmed Youssef, a former deputy foreign minister of Hamas, said that Palestinians were "really disappointed in the Obama administration" and that the warmth of the new leadership in Egypt allowed it to place its confidence in its good offices.

2011-04-29 00:00:00

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