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Tuesday, October 13, 2009
U.S. to Egypt: Fatah-Hamas deal undermines Israel-PA talks

U.S. to Egypt: Fatah-Hamas deal undermines Israel-PA talks
By Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondents Last update -
11:06 13/10/2009
www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1120633.html

The United States sent a message to Egypt stating it does not support the
proposed reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas as it would
undermine negotiations with Israel, Haaretz has learned.

George Mitchell, the U.S. envoy to the Middle East, met on Saturday night in
Cairo with the chief of Egyptian intelligence, Gen. Omar Suleiman, and told
him the United States would not support an agreement not aligned with the
principles of the Quartet.

According to the agreement, which was supposed to have been signed by
Thursday, Abbas was to issue a presidential decree no later than October 25,
scheduling both parliamentary and presidential elections for June 28. Eighty
percent of the delegates to the Palestinian parliament were to be elected by
party basis, and 20 percent by constituency.

A special committee with delegates from all factions was supposed to have
assumed control of the Gaza Strip, reporting to Abbas. The Strip was also to
see a new security force, staffed with members of all Palestinian factions.

Sources told Haaretz that Mitchell made clear to the Egyptians on Saturday
the United States expects any Palestinian government to follow the
conditions of the Quartet, which include recognition of the State of Israel,
acknowledging earlier agreements and renouncing terrorism.

Mitchell also said certain aspects of current agreement were poorly timed as
they would undermine relaunching negotiations between Israel and the
Palestinians.

The administration official said that the United States would continue to
oppose those aspects of the agreement at any time. He noted American views
on Palestinian governance have been made clear to the Egyptians several
times.

The proposed Hamas and Fatah reconciliation agreement would have ended three
years of civil strife and political discordance. The actual reconciliation
ceremony between chief of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Meshal, and
Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, was to be held after the Id
al-Adha holiday.

Formal ceremony

The agreement was authored by the Egyptian mediators, who suggested
postponing the formal ceremony as Hamas announced it could not participate
in the signing with Abbas after the Palestinian Authority president asked
the United Nations to postpone discussion of the Goldstone report.

The mediators then announced they would send the agreement to the principal
parties of Fatah and Hamas, expecting them to sign it and return it on
October 15 at the latest. All other Palestinian groups are expected to add
their signatures by October 20.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that on October 16 the PA will
ask the UN Human Rights Council to forward the Goldstone report either to
the UN Security Council or to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Abbas received a copy of the Egyptian-drafted agreement on Sunday evening,
and Fatah had already said it was in full agreement with the Egyptian
document. The Hamas position on the document remained unclear.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the meeting of the
Likud caucus Monday that American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is
expected to visit Israel, perhaps as early as the end of the month. The
prime minister said he is "more optimistic than some commentators about
relaunching the peace process."

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