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July 28, 2016 3:19 pm

Report: PA President Abbas Announces Wish for New Round of Reconciliation Talks With Hamas Ahead of Municipal Elections

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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PA President Mahmoud Abbas.  Photo: Screenshot.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Photo: Screenshot.

The head of the Palestinian Authority said that a new round of reconciliation talks will take place between his Fatah faction and Hamas, for the purpose of reaching an agreement surrounding the upcoming Palestinian municipal elections and discussing the establishment of a unity government, the Hebrew news site nrg reported on Thursday.

According to the report, in a TV interview in Sudan, where he visited last week, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said, “We hope that Hamas will agree, we are perhaps divided on political issues, but we are one people. Hamas is a part of the Palestinian people and I cannot ignore or exclude it. We need internal Palestinian reconciliation and quickly. Without unity, there will not be a Palestinian state.”

However, as multiple media outlets have been reporting over the past week, Abbas is actually afraid that Hamas, which announced its intention to field candidates in the elections, scheduled for October 8, will win a majority. In the only two elections in which the terrorist group has run so far, in the municipal elections in 2005 and the legislative council elections in 2006, it emerged victorious. In 2012, it boycotted the elections. This time around, it has agreed to participate.

In the New York Post on Thursday — in a piece titled: “Why Palestinians are on the verge of civil war” — columnist Benny Avni called the PA president “Mr. Yesterday,” writing:

At the age of 80, Abbas has now spent a dozen years in an office he’d been elected to hold for four. As he nears the end of his career, many in the West Bank wonder if he’s all there…

And if he’s starting to fade? Well, Mr. Yesterday never prepared his people for tomorrow — that day after he steps down or dies. Several leader-wannabes will duke it out then, and — like Arab nations throughout the region’s volatile history — they’ll likely fail to resolve their differences peacefully or quickly.

Reconciliation agreements between Abbas’ Fatah faction and Hamas have been brokered, reached and broken many times since 2006, when the latter took control over Gaza. In 2014, the two warring Palestinian entities signed an agreement to form a unity government, giving Hamas “technocratic” powers, but their political and ideological infighting has prevented the deal from lasting.

According to nrg, the Ramallah-based Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayyam reported that Abbas will meet in Paris with US Secretary of State John Kerry and French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Saturday. The report surmised that, among other topics, the three will discuss the French initiative to convene an international peace conference to discuss a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Al-Ayyam also said that Abbas is expected to meet with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls during his stay.

A senior PA adviser told the paper that French President Francois Hollande recently told Abbas that his country is continuing its efforts to hold the conference this year, which the PA ambassador to France said is likely to take place in early December.

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