Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have agreed to accept the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as a “national reference” until new elections are held for the Palestine National Council (PNC).
By agreeing this the parties resolved a recent dispute in which Hamas called for the PLO to be replaced with a more inclusive organization. The PLO does not include Hamas or Islamic Jihad.
The agreement is the first to emerge from the fourth round of talks in Cairo aimed at reuniting the two movements and establishing a unified Palestinian government. Both factions have labeled the negotiations a “last chance” for unity.
At the end of the first day of meetings on Monday, leaders from both parties refused to make statements about the negotiations, which were expected to end without a comprehensive agreement.
On Monday Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he rejected a demand by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Palestinians recognize Israel “as a Jewish state,” a condition for renewed peace talks.
"I do not accept it," Abbas said, according to Reuters. "It is not my job to give a description of the state. Name yourself the Hebrew Socialist Republic - it is none of my business.”
The PLO recognized “the right of the State of Israel to exist in peace and security.” In return, Israel did not recognize an independent Palestinian state but rather acknowledged the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinians.
Palestinian negotiators have rejected this demand for recognition of Israel as a “Jewish state” because Israel conceives of its Jewish nature in terms of its Jewish majority. This, in turn, would preclude the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in what is now Israel.
Recognition of Israel is also an issue in the Hamas-Fatah talks, as international donors, including the US, demand that any Palestinian government recognize Israel’s right to exist as a condition for international aid. In this sense, Abbas pronouncement could have been seen as a gesture to Hamas. In the same speech Abbas focused on unity, calling for the creation of a national consensus government through the Cairo process.
Hamas however rejected Abbas’ pronouncement as “cheap marketing of American conditions.” In a statement Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum criticized Abbas’ insistence on “futile negotiations” with Israel. source
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