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Abbas reports coalition talks with Hamas have broken down

Abbas reports coalition talks with Hamas have broken down

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said yesterday that his agreement with the ruling Hamas militant group on forming a more moderate coalition government was off.
"There is no dialogue now," Abbas said at a news conference with Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa.
A preliminary coalition agreement between Abbas' Fatah Party and Hamas, announced on September 11, "is over now, and we have to start from square one," he said, not ruling out the renewal of talks at a later date.
Abbas also said a new Cabinet must be formed to end a recent surge in violence that claimed 10 lives in three days. He did not elaborate, but Abbas holds wide-ranging constitutional powers that include the authority to disband the current government.
A Hamas Cabinet minister, giving a dramatically different assessment of the situation, said the two sides were on the verge of forming a government, possibly one made up of professionals, not politicians.
Hamas entered the agreement with Fatah under pressure from crushing Western economic sanctions that have generated widening protests against the government. But talks foundered last week over Hamas' refusal to recognize Israel - a key demand of Western powers - and infighting quickly followed. The infighting was the deadliest since Hamas took office in March and heightened fears of a full-scale civil war.
"There are many bloody events now, and we need to end this crisis as soon as possible, reach a solution and form a new Cabinet," Abbas told reporters.
Asked if he would use his powers to dissolve the government, he replied: "My constitutional authority will be used at the appropriate time. ... We are going to see how to deal with the solution. All doors are open."
If he were to disband the government, Abbas could either form a Cabinet of professionals, rather than politicians, or call new elections.
New elections would be a risky move because a Fatah victory would not be guaranteed. A recent poll showed Fatah would tie with Hamas if a vote were held now.
Public Works Minister Abdel Rahman Zaidan of Hamas, taking issue with Abbas' view of the situation, said the two sides were in "the final stages" of forming a so-called national unity government.
"There is serious thinking within Hamas to form a national unity government which is composed of professionals, basically, not political faces," Zaidan said. "This government would not be headed by a Hamas leader."
An Abbas confidant, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a government of professionals would be a way out of the current crisis.
But another aide to Abbas, known commonly as Abu Mazen, said no new government would be able to avoid recognizing Israel.
"What matters is the program of the government," Saeb Erekat said. "The program of the government must reflect the principles Abu Mazen specified in his speech at the U.N." - namely, recognition of Israel.
Efforts to restart long-stalled peacemaking should not be derailed by the Hamas-Fatah crisis, Erekat said, shortly before U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was to arrive in Ramallah for talks with Abbas.


Updated : 2021-03-03 10:02 GMT+08:00