Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
is interested in keeping Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as the head of the Hamas-
unity government despite recent reports to the contrary, the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported Sunday.
It was recently said that Abbas, like Hamas leaders, is not among Fayyad's supporters. The relationship between the two has been strained for years; loyalists of the president accuse the prime minister of stealing the spotlight by gaining international popularity.
But according to the Asharq al-Awsat report, Abbas wants to keep Fayyad on in the prime minister role because it would send a positive message to the international community, especially the United States and the European Union. Abbas wants to make it clear to the international community that a future Palestinian government is committed to the same path as the current government.
According to the article, Abbas is making efforts to convince Hamas of the significance of Fayyad's role, in order to stop the Israeli government from attempting to undermine the legitimacy of the new Palestinian government.
Fayyad and Abbas. (Photo: Reuters)
Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal refused to reveal the movement's position on Fayyad in an interview with Al-Jazeera on Saturday evening.
"Our stance on the matter is clear, and we will update our brothers in Fatah during the upcoming negotiations," he said.
He added that he is not pleased that the Palestinian Authority's security forces continue to arrest Hamas operatives. "We will never accept it, and will try to cross the existing obstacles," he said.
Mashaal acknowledged in his speech the fact that not all Palestinian factions support the Hamas-Fatah unity agreement,
expressing hope that all sides will reconcile their differences.
Addressing the pressure on Hamas to recognize Israel,
Mashaal said that "it is unacceptable to ask the victim to recognize his executer."
He noted that the movement does not oppose Abbas' efforts to use the unity deal to pursue peace with Israel for the good of the Palestinian people. He added that any decisions that are made during the reconciliation's interim phase, before it becomes permanent, are mutual decisions on security, policy and territory matters.