Mideast news brief: Hamas and Fatah meet in Cairo after reconciliation agreement is signed
Hamas and Fatah meet in Cairo after reconciliation agreement is signed Hamas and Fatah leaders met at a unity agreement ceremony in Cairo, a day after the agreement was signed, effectively ending a four-year rift between the two Palestinian factions. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal met face-to-face at the ceremony for ...
Hamas and Fatah meet in Cairo after reconciliation agreement is signed
Hamas and Fatah meet in Cairo after reconciliation agreement is signed
Hamas and Fatah leaders met at a unity agreement ceremony in Cairo, a day after the agreement was signed, effectively ending a four-year rift between the two Palestinian factions. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal met face-to-face at the ceremony for the first time since 2006. The agreement allows for a joint interim government ahead of national elections next year. “We announce to Palestinians that we turn forever the black page of division,” said Abbas. Meshaal spoke next reaffirming that its only fight is with Israel, and that its four-year rift with Fatah was now in the past. “Our aim is to establish a free and completely sovereign Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, whose capital is Jerusalem, without any settlers and without giving up a single inch of land and without giving up on the right of return [of Palestinian refugees],” he said. Representatives from the UN, EU and the Arab League were in attendance at the ceremony, held at the headquarters of the Egyptian intelligence agency. In a symbolic step ahead of the ceremony, Hamas permitted Fatah-controlled Palestine TV to broadcast from Gaza for the first time since the 2007 takeover.
- International Criminal Court prosecutor says there are grounds to charge Libyan forces with crimes against humanity.
- Syrian President Assad says the military operation in the tense southern city of Dara’a will end “very soon.”
- House Speaker says some troops should stay in Iraq beyond the end of the year when all American forces are scheduled to be withdrawn.
- Yemen President’s political adviser says Yemen in danger of collapse if pact is not signed.
- Bahrain arrests doctors and nurses who treated anti-government protesters on charges of acting against the state.
Syrian anti-government protesters hold up loaves of bread as they protest in the northern Syrian port and oil terminal of Banias, on May 3, 2011. Anti-regime protesters called for permanent sit-ins across Syria from May 4 as authorities were said to have arrested more than 1,000 people in their latest crackdown on demonstrations (AFP/Getty Images).
Arguments & Analysis
‘Support the Palestinian unity government’ (Jimmy Carter, Washington Post)
“Why should the United States and the international community support the agreement? First, it respects Palestinian rights and democracy. In 2006, Hamas won the legislative election, but the “Quartet” — the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia — rejected it and withheld aid, and the unity government collapsed. Competition between the two factions turned vicious, and each side has arrested the other’s activists. Instead of exacerbating differences between the two parties, the international community should help them resolve disagreements through electoral and legislative processes. Second, with international support, the accord could lead to a durable cease-fire. Israel and the United States are concerned that Hamas could use a unity government to launch attacks against Israel. I have visited the Israeli border town of Sderot and share their concern. I urged Hamas’s leaders to stop launching rockets, and they attempted to negotiate a lasting mutual cease-fire. The United States and other Quartet members should assist Hamas and Israel’s search for a cease-fire. Third, the accord could be a vehicle to press for a final peace agreement for two states. Abu Mazen will be able to negotiate on behalf of all Palestinians. And with Quartet support, a unity government can negotiate with Israel an exchange of prisoners for the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and a settlement freeze.”
‘No exit: Yemen’s existential crisis’ (Sheila Carapico, MERIP)
“The failed GCC push to reach an accord by May 1 turned out to be the opening gambit in a complex negotiation that seems unlikely to be concluded soon. More and more, personalities from bygone dramas are now weighing in from exile: rebel leader Yahya al-Houthi and former South Yemen leaders Haydar Abu Bakr al-‘Attas, ‘Ali Salim al-Bayd and ‘Ali Nasir Muhammad, to name a few, seek to claim the initiative. If there is to be forward momentum, their views and constituencies, such as they are, will have to be taken into account. And yet these additions to the mix can only complicate matters. Yemen is now in political limbo and not far from the road to hell. No one believes that the president can continue in office or that he will relinquish power. The popular movement has come too far to back off and yet sees no clear path toward social justice. Gulf monarchies and the Obama administration appear to lack the diplomatic wherewithal, the strategic imagination or the humanitarian decency to envision a solution to the impasse. And yet daily the status quo becomes more untenable. Loyalist patrimonial forces are wont to shoot, and may yet provoke either a mutinous response or a full-fledged rebellion by armed citizens. The spirit of “Silmiyya,” which served Tunisians and Egyptians so well, can persevere only so long in the face of live fire. In March and for part of April, it was possible to envision an orderly transition to a civilian coalition transitional government. The month of May may bring more bloodshed.”
‘Lunch with Mohamed ElBaradei’ (Gideon Rachman, Financial Times)
“There is no doubt ElBaradei has courage. He could easily have retired comfortably after his stint at the IAEA and taken up lucrative positions as an international grandee. He did not have to take up the cudgels against the Mubarak government. Because ElBaradei was one of the few prominent Egyptians to speak out against the president, he was hailed as a hero and a savior by many liberals. Now some of the same people are frustrated by their erstwhile champion’s failure to get more stuck into the rough-and-tumble of Egyptian politics. They complain that ElBaradei lacks the popular touch and that, after many years out of the country, his Arabic is correct but lifeless … In this, ElBaradei presents a strong contrast to the man regarded as his main rival for the presidency, Amr Moussa, a 74-year-old former Egyptian foreign minister who now heads the Arab League, a regional forum representing 22 nations. Moussa has much more of the swagger and suaveness of a traditional Arab leader. He also has a populist touch and has recently announced that he wants to double Egypt’s meager minimum wage. Though there is little doubt of ElBaradei’s personal commitment to the poor — he gave all the prize money from his Nobel award to orphanages in Cairo — when I ask him what he thinks of the idea of doubling the minimum wage, he refuses to match Moussa’s promise. “You have to see first how much money you have,” he replies. It is the only responsible answer, given that Egypt is running a budget deficit of 12 per cent of gross domestic product, but I wonder how it will go over in an election campaign.”
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