Palestinian Unity Pact Still Faces Big Hurdles

(Los Angeles Times) Edmund Sanders and Paul Richter - A squabble over seating before the signing of a reconciliation pact between Fatah and Hamas illustrates the internal tensions that persist between the two groups. Wednesday's ceremony in Cairo was delayed for two hours because of a last-minute spat over whether Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal would be seated on the podium with Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas and permitted to address guests. The agreement places new hurdles on American-led efforts to forge a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians. Partnering with Hamas could backfire and taint Abbas' international reputation for being a moderate, or alienate the U.S. and other nations that provide much of his government's financial backing. Hamas, which last month renewed rocket attacks on southern Israel from Gaza, refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist or to renounce violence. A strict federal law bars any support for the Palestinian Authority if its government includes terrorists as defined by U.S. law. Since Hamas is officially designated a terrorist organization, U.S. officials could be restricted from training Palestinian Authority security forces and from other official contacts as well.

2011-05-05 00:00:00

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