Abbas and Meshaal hold talks

Mahmoud Abbas told a press conference that further talks would resume soon.


    Khalid Meshaal, the head of Hamas, says he would agree to a truce with Israel [AFP]

    "The main difference on the government's manifesto persists. The meeting will convene to affirm that the two sides are committed to continue dialogue and reject the use of violence and spilling of Palestinian blood," he said.

    Postponement

    The talks had been postponed on Saturday after the two sides failed to reach an agreement on the proposed unity government and then appeared to have been cancelled just hours before Erekat made his announcement. 

    Marzouk told Al Jazeera's correspondent in Damascus, Zeina Khodr, that the two sides had disagreed over policy recognition.
     
    Abbas wants Hamas to recognise all past political agreements signed by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Israel. Hamas only accepts policies it agrees with.

    Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister, said on Sunday that Hamas was not willing to recognise Israel despite offering a long-term truce with the Jewish state.
       
    "We accept a Palestinian state on the lands [Israel] occupied in 1967, but in return for a long-term truce and not recognition," he said.

    He also said there would be no new crisis even if Abbas and Meshaal failed to reach a full agreement at the meeting.
       
    "Ninety per cent of the issues have been agreed upon. The remaining issues include those relating to the political agenda and key ministries," Haniya told reporters in Gaza.
       
    "With a more focused and comprehensive dialogue, we will be able to reach final understandings that will prepare the ground for the formation of a national unity government," he added.
     

    Meeting agenda

     
    Initially
    Abbas and Meshaal had been expected to discuss the names of the ministers for interior, finance and foreign affairs in a proposed Palestinian unity government.

     

    Your Views

    "The only real solution is for everyone to live on the land as equals. In the end, everyone there will have to live together or they will all die together."

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    Fatah and Hamas have tried for months to agree on a national unity government, in hope of ending a boycott by the United States and the European Union and in order to present a united front towards Israel.

     

    Washington and Brussels consider Hamas to be a terrorist group and suspended direct financial aid to the Palestinians because the movement refuses to renounce violence or recognise Israel. 

     

    Tensions between the two factions, which had already claimed a number of lives, boiled over in the Gaza Strip in December, killing more than 30 people in that month alone.

     

    However, violence has tapered off in the past couple of weeks.

     

    Clashes last month began after Abbas called for early elections as a way of resolving the standoff with Hamas, which rejected the move.

     

    Syria hosts the exiled leadership of a number of Palestinian groups and could exert considerable influence over Hamas. Meshaal moved to Syria from Jordan after an Israeli assassination attempt in 1997.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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