In a meeting with the UN General Assembly Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas assured his listeners that any national unity government he negotiated with Hamas would recognize Israel’s right to exist and renounce violence.  He added that the national unity government would abide by all past agreements made with the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian National Authority.  This includes written correspondence between Palestinian and Israeli officials in which the PLO acknowledges Israel’s right to exist, renounces violence, and devotes itself to creating a two-state solution through negotiations. 

Hamas made a contradicting statement in response: “There won’t be a
national unity government if Hamas is asked to recognize Israel,”
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s political adviser, Ahmed
Yousef, told The Associated Press Friday.

The efforts to organize a national unity government between Fatah and
Hamas have been in constant flux because Hamas will not change its
stance on Israel and violent resistance; similarly, the U.S. and Israel
will not begin negotiate with any Palestinian government unless it
submits to the three aforementioned requirements as laid out by the

Abbas’s plan for a unity government is one of cooperation between
Palestinian leaders, followed by the approval of the Palestinian people
in order to achieve a separate Palestinian state.  He told the UN
Security Council that any peace negotiations carried out under a unity
government would be under the jurisdiction of the PLO and negotiation
results would be subjected to a national referendum or the Palestinian
National Council. 

He also said, "Any future government will commit to imposing security
and order, to ending the phenomena of multiple militias, indiscipline
and chaos, and to the rule of law."  

In return, Abbas hopes that “the unjust siege imposed on our people,
which has inflicted extensive damage on our society, its livelihood and
means of its growth and development” will end. 

However, officially Israel has shown little willingness to compromise
on these issues, without so much as a gesture towards negotiations with
the Palestinians.  Vice Premier Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert said on Thursday that they would not meet with Abbas until Hamas
recognizes Israel and releases the captured Israeli soldier, Gilad

Contrarily, there was some indication that Israel is willing to address
the Palestinians’ heavy financial burdens when Peres met Abbas outside
of the General Assembly meeting to consider implementing an economic
cooperation project.  The two leaders also discussed Abbas’s plans to
form the Palestinian unity government. 

According to chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, Palestinian
leaders are aware of their obligations and understand that they “have
to be consistent with the international community,” adding that the
Palestinians are still operating from a basis of mutual agreement,
which was established over 10 years ago. 

Sourced from Haaretz and The Associated Press