Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasim Al Thani has entered
talks to form a unity government as a mediator between Hamas and
Fatah, the leaders of which he will meet in Gaza City Monday


Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh organized the meeting after his trip to Qatar last week when Al Thani offered to act as a mediator between Haniyeh and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Haniyeh said that Qatar is the only Arab country willing to provide diplomatic assistance at this time. 

Dr. Ahmed Yousef, Political Advisor to Haniyeh, had communicated to the exiled Hamas leadership in Damascus that Qatar was interested in guiding the talks to form a coalition government, which has led to an agreement between the three parties. Dr. Yousef will represent Haniyeh and Rauhi Fattouh, former Speaker of the Legislative Council, will represent Abbas. 

At the time of this report, Abbas is meeting with the Jordanian Foreign Minister, Egypt's Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman, and US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, David Welch, according to the Palestinian Presidential Spokesperson Abu Rudeineh.

This news comes after Abbas canceled his trip to Gaza Monday to meet Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The leaders planned to continue their two-day talks about forming a unity government, but Abbas’ insistence that Hamas recognize Israel has stalled the process once again. 

For Hamas, recognizing Israel is akin to recognizing the illegal occupation, a declaration it will never make.  The delay in coming to an agreement has prolonged the international economic and diplomatic boycott on the Hamas government, leaving 165,000 employees without pay since January 2006. 

Fatah and Hamas members and supporters are growing impatient with their leaders’ inability to reach an agreement. Fighting broke out between the two groups shortly after Abbas’ trip to the US.

After meetings with President Abbas, the US administration stressed that it would not lift the boycott unless certain demands were met, however the US has not made its position clear regarding which demands, if met, will serve to lift the international boycott and allow for a renewal in diplomatic relations between the Palestinian government and the West. The US has repeatedly insisted that Hamas recognize Israel, renounce violence and recognize all past peace agreements, but it has not formally made the connection between these demands and normalizing relations. 

Sourced from PNN