Speaking to reporters after a Saturday afternoon meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana expressed the European Union's sorrow over the failure of Palestinian government unity talks, accusing Hamas of missing an opportunity to lift the sanctions from Gaza.
''Very sadly, I have to say the chance has been lost,'' he told reporters.
Solana reiterated the need for the current Palestinian government to comply with the demands of the international community.
Abbas' meeting with Solana is part of a series of talks held by the PA Presidents with European officials, including German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Jonas Gahr Store.
The talks for the most part revolved around the situation within the Palestinian Authority and the chances of renewing the peace process. Abbas confirmed that the negotiations for a unity government had unfortunately reached a dead end. Abbas demanded that the EU and Quartet renew their roles. During his meeting with Solana Abbas spoke of the need to restart the peace process based on the Road Map and the Arab peace initiative, this following the speech given by Israeli PM Ehud Olmert last week and US President George W. Bush's commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian side alongside Israel.
Dahlan: Opportunity missed
Solana also met with Palestinian Minister for Civil Affairs Mohammad Dahlan, who said that Abbas may resort to extreme measures following the unity failure. Dahlan declined to elaborate further, though it is widely assumed that Dahlan was hinting, like other Fatah officials in recent days, that Abbas may dismantle the current government and establish a technocrat government in its place. According to Dahlan Hamas was wrong to interpret Abbas' willingness to compromise on Hamas demands at the expense of Fatah as a weakness. Abbas, says Dahlan, believes that the opportunity to establish a unity government which would bring to the lift the sanctions placed on the Palestinians has been lost.
Senior Hamas official Dr. Mousa Abu Marzook said that removing the sanctions does not require compromising Palestinian principles. Speaking with a Hamas internet website Marzuk said that there is a need to press on with the talks, calling Abbas' announcement that the unity talks have failed dangerous.
He blamed Fatah and Abbas for bringing three new demands which ultimately destroyed the talks: saying that Fatah refused to compromise on specific government portfolios while Hamas took a positive approach to the talks. Secondly the matter of the political platform dictated to the government by Abbas. The third matter is the connection between the new government and the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldier being held in Gaza.
Hamas called the demand made by Fatah and the PLO for Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to resign a coup, intended to pace the way for the formation of a unity government. Hamas has said that the demand is offensive to Palestinian democracy, saying that this was simply a way to get around the statistics. Hamas of course rejected the claim, choosing to blame Fatah for the failure of the talks.