Photo: AFP
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
Photo: AFP
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh
Photo: AFP
PA factions close to agreement?
Sources in Palestinian Authority estimate Hamas, Fatah to declare Monday that prisoners' document will constitute basic document for establishment of Palestinian unity government; Abbas' aides hope move will accelerate international aid
Sources at the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas-led government estimated Monday morning that "there is a good chance that today the Palestinian factions will announce that they have reached an agreement over the prisoners' document."


Such an agreement will enable annulling the referendum declared by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, which has caused a rift on the Palestinian street.


The talks between the parties continued all day Sunday and in the hours of the night in a bid to overcome the last differences of opinion over the document.


According to estimations, the parties in Ramallah and Gaza will announce on Monday that the prisoners' document would constitute the basis for a Palestinian unity government that will help in removing the Palestinian Authority from the economic siege imposed on it since the Hamas-led government came into power.


Associates of the Palestinian president hope that the approval of the document would be implemented ahead of the visit of EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. Abbas' aides also hope that the document's approval would accelerate international aid to the PA.


In the past two days, and since the last meeting which took place last week between the Palestinian president and Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, there has been a breakthrough in the talks which enabled the progress around all the clauses, including clauses which were under dispute, such as the PLO's representation, the government's authorities, negotiations with Israel and recognizing the '67 borders.


Sources in the PA told Ynet that the breakthrough was made possible following hasty talks between Egypt and representatives of the different factions, mainly Hamas representatives, including the group's leadership in Damascus.


Hamas: We want Mashaal to head PLO


Hamas members have already launched discussions on the movement's desired role in the PLO institutions.


The London-based Arabic al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper reported Monday morning that Hamas is interested in having the movement's politburo chief Khaled Mashaal appointed as the PLO's executive committee chairman or secretary-general.


According to estimations, talks on establishing a Palestinian national unity government will begin in coming days. In light of proposals that an independent representative will head the government, Hamas has demanded that the role be fulfilled by the movement's representative, Palestinian Prime Minister Haniyeh.


A prominent name mentioned as a possible government leader is Munib al-Masri, a millionaire from Nablus, who has the support of the Palestinian public and many Fatah members. Al-Masri's supporters believe that as a businessman he is capable of removing the PA from its economic distress.


Abbas is expected to ask Ferrero to guarantee that the establishment of such a government will lead to a removal of the embargo on the PA in light of remarks made by senior Israeli officials, who said that the establishment of a Palestinian national unity government and an acceptance of the prisoners' document are not enough to lift the economic siege imposed on the PA.


One of the elements responsible for accelerating the progress between the parties are the understandings achieved by senior Fatah member Mohammad Dahlan and Palestinian Prime Minister Haniyeh. According to some of the understandings, Hamas will accept the appointment of Rashid Abu Shabak, Abbas and Dahlan's devotee, as commander of the PA's internal security organization, an appointment which Palestinian Interior Minister Said Siam objected to.


Upon the approval of the appointment, the parties agreed that Siam and Abu Shabak would work in full coordination. The sides also agreed that the 3,000 members of the Palestinian government's special security force, which is mainly comprised of Hamas members, would be integrated into the Palestinian security organizations and would be financed by the PA.


Dahlan's support of a national unity government with Fatah removes a great deal of the objection inside Fatah to a move of joining such a government.


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