BBC World News
May 5, 2011 - 12:00am

Palestinian and Israeli papers have given a cautious welcome to the unity deal signed by the two main Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, in Cairo on Wednesday.

In the pro-Fatah Palestinian press, there is praise for Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal's call for a Palestinian unity state in the West Bank and Gaza while a paper affiliated to Hamas warns that the success of the agreement depends on its implementation on the ground.

In Israel, some commentators say the agreement is less a sign of Palestinian unity and more the product of the upheavals elsewhere in the region but one paper urged the government to use it as an opportunity to restart negotiations with the Palestinians.

In other Middle East countries, some papers expressed satisfaction with the agreement while others predicted a rocky road ahead.

PALESTINIAN PRO-FATAH AL-QUDS: "The speech by Hamas Political Bureau head Khaled Meshaal contained an extremely important political remark. He said his movement calls for establishing an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza with Jerusalem as its capital. By saying this, he is presenting a flexible political strategy and sending clear signals to the international community that Hamas' position is almost compatible to Fatah's and the Palestinian National Authority."

ADLI SADIQ IN PNA-OWNED AL-HAYAT AL-JADIDAH: "Meshaal's speech was positive and conciliatory and its political content was realistic and patriotic. The participation of some factional leaders makes it seem that the rainbow of factions based in Damascus so far has concluded that the Palestinian home is better than any other."

FAYIZ ABU-SHAMMALAH IN PALESTINIAN HAMAS-RUN FILASTIN: "After the reconciliation, Palestinian feelings will change. The doubts planted by bloodshed will fade away, the malice will melt away and unilateralism in decision-making will cease. Loyalty to Palestine the homeland will be the benchmark."

MUSTAFA AL-SAWWAF IN PALESTINIAN HAMAS-RUN FILASTIN: "The success of the agreement depends on implementation on the ground. In other words, success depends on the Palestinians while the role of the Arabs, particularly Egypt, is to help the true attitudes of both parties and reconcile them if they disagree. "

ALEX FISHMAN IN ISRAEL'S CENTRIST YEDIOT AHARONOT: "It is doubtful that there was reconciliation or the start of unity… The two [Meshaal and Abbas] did not even raise a single issue on which they agree… The image of a united Palestinian people will create a tailwind… that could influence the intensity of events in the West Bank in the run-up to Naqba Day on 15 May [anniversary of establishment of state of Israel] and even more so in the run-up to September's UN General Assembly meeting."

YAACOV BAR-SIMAN TOV IN ISRAEL'S PRO-NETANYAHU YISRAEL HAYOM: "The reconciliation agreement plays into the hands of Israel more than ever… [Netanyahu] can claim that in the new situation, the PA preferred peace with Hamas to peace with Israel. He can even claim that the ball is no longer in the Israeli court but in the Palestinians'. If the Palestinians are interested in advancing the peace process, they must prove this and Hamas must first stop the terror from Gaza and declare its readiness to recognise Israel."

EDITORIAL IN ISRAEL'S LEFT-OF-CENTRE, INDEPENDENT HA'ARETZ: "A secret [Israeli Foreign] Ministry report revealed in Ha'aretz yesterday advised the government not to attack the reconciliation and to view it as an opportunity… Israel cannot and does not have to thwart it. It would also be correct for Israel to recognise the Palestinian unity government in order to conduct a dialogue and have neighbourly relations with the Palestinian state in future."

BEN KASPIT IN ISRAEL'S CENTRIST MA'ARIV: "If the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas is like a marriage, we are now at the start of the courting stage… Fatah and Hamas… have yet to form a government together… The chance of this happening is not high… Israel, as usual, chose its eternal refusnik position and is missing another opportunity to exploit the event to its own advantage."

YAAKOV KATZ IN ISRAEL'S ENGLISH-LANGUAGE JERUSALEM POST: "What made the deal happen on Wednesday is the ongoing upheaval in the Middle East and Hamas' concern that if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad falls, it will lose its logistical and political support. It is also concerned by the possibility that the riots spreading across the Middle East will eventually reach Gaza, where the Palestinians would protest not against Israel but against Hamas… The national unity government that is to be established now will help Abbas make a stronger case for statehood at the UN… For Israel, this will be a difficult argument to counter, particularly when peace talks remain deadlocked and are basically nonexistent."

HAMDI HANDAL IN EGYPT'S AL-JUMHURIYAH: "What is really important is that the Palestinians themselves should protect this deal and avoid anything causing sedition and division… This deal aimed at ending internal division, restoring Palestinian unity and protecting the Palestinian resistance, will definitely not please many international forces which revolve in Israel's orbit and its major ally, the US."

MAHA SULTAN IN SYRIA'S TISHRIN: "Undoubtedly, the Palestinians - both Fatah and Hamas - understand the challenges ahead very well and already know what positions Israel and Washington will adopt. But if they proceed with the same resolution, nothing will stand in their way and it seems that, finally, we can be optimistic."

MUSIB NU'AYMI IN IRAN'S AL-VEFAGH: "Everybody has to realise that the forthcoming phase, which is about consolidating the reconciliation… will be the most difficult, as the Zionist entity… will not stand idly by."


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