Creating people's geographies
Last Update: Tuesday, June 27, 2006. 11:48pm (AEST)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh have reached agreement on a manifesto at the heart of a power struggle between their rival groups, officials say.
The political document, penned by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, implicitly recognises Israel.
But the phrasing of the Abbas-Haniyeh deal appeared to leave the prime minister’s Hamas movement wriggle room on the issue.
“All the obstacles were removed and an agreement was reached on all the points of the prisoners’ document,” Rawhi Fattouh, a senior aide to Abbas, said after factions meeting in Gaza initialled the accord.
Mr Fattouh said Mr Haniyeh and Mr Abbas, a Fatah leader, would formally announce the deal later in the day. A Hamas spokesman confirmed an agreement was reached.
But with Israel and the Palestinians preparing for a possible Israeli offensive in Gaza following the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier, there appeared to be little chance agreement over the document could open a path towards peacemaking soon.
Officials close to the negotiations, which have dragged on for weeks, said Mr Abbas and Mr Haniyeh agreed on a platform based on the manifesto, accepting a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Such a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be in line with Fatah’s recognition of Israel.
But officials said before Mr Fattouh’s announcement the phrasing also noted that moves towards statehood, including Arab initiatives seeking peace with Israel and international resolutions on the conflict, must serve Palestinian interests.
That could allow Hamas to reject, on those grounds, any accommodation with Israel, or recognition of the Jewish state.
The deal also appeared likely to lead to the cancellation of a July 26 referendum Mr Abbas scheduled over Hamas’s objections on the prisoners’ document.
Under the accord, Hamas, leading the Palestinian government on its own after an election victory in January, would agree to form a unity administration with Fatah and other factions, officials said before Mr Fattouh made his statement.
Hamas had insisted it would head any governing coalition, but it was not immediately clear if it won the point in the agreement.