Ma'an News Agency
February 6, 2012 - 12:00am
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=458196


BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- President Abbas and Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal penned an agreement in Qatar on Monday which will see the Fatah leader head a unity government.

The agreement stipulates that the current President will head an interim government to prepare for parliamentary and presidential elections.

It also included agreements on reforming the Palestinian National Council and activating the PLO for the next elections, Palestine TV said.

All political prisoners will be released, according to the agreement, and both Abbas and Mashaal reconfirmed the basic principles agreed upon in Cairo, such as allowing election committees to begin their work in the West Bank and Gaza.

"We are serious, both Fatah and Hamas, in healing the wounds and ending the chapter of division and reinforcing and accomplishing reconciliation," Mashaal said in remarks televised live by Al Jazeera from Qatar.

"We want to inform our people that despite the fear of the many meetings being held which might not be implemented, there is a seriousness in ending the split and strengthening Palestinian unity in order to confront the Israeli occupation," he added.

"Palestinian unity is not an option anymore, it is fate, and the Arab nation supports Palestinian efforts to unite," Qatar's Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani said.

Abbas, head of the secular Fatah organization, promised that "this effort will be implemented in the shortest time possible". He also applauded Egyptian and Qatari efforts to aid Palestinian reconciliation.

A senior Palestinian official said that Abbas would assume the role of prime minister, replacing Western-backed Salam Fayyad.

It was not immediately clear if Fayyad would be a member of the new government or when it would be formed.

The deal provided for a government of independent technocrats to oversee preparations for elections later this year. A vote had been planned for May but the Palestinian election commission says more time will be needed.

The last presidential and parliamentary elections were held in 2006. Hamas won the parliamentary vote.




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