Bloomberg News

Abbas to Meet Hamas’s Mashaal Nov. 23 on Palestinian Unity

November 17, 2011

(Updates with Abbas comment in third paragraph.)

Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he will meet with Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal in Cairo on Nov. 23 to work out details of an agreement to reunite the West Bank and Gaza Strip under joint rule.

Abbas, speaking today at a ceremony in the West Bank city of Ramallah to mark the seventh anniversary of the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, said the talks will pave the way for a popular vote on his successor and a new legislature.

“We want to achieve reconciliation by holding elections,” Abbas, head of the secular Fatah movement, said. “We will discuss where we are headed.”

Abbas and Mashaal signed an agreement on May 4 calling for an interim government sharing power between Fatah and Hamas, with elections to be held within a year. Since then, the two sides have been unable to agree on details about the governing arrangement.

An agreement with Hamas may increase friction with Israel, the U.S. and the European Union, which consider the Islamic group a terrorist organization.

Abbas also said Palestinians would continue to seek membership in the United Nations even if the current bid fails. He repeated his stance that Palestinians will not return to peace negotiations unless Israel freezes all construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

--Editors: Louis Meixler, Jennifer Freedman.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan Ferziger in Tel Aviv at jferziger@bloomberg.net; Fadwa Hodali in Ramallah at fhodali@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net


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