The Palestinian unity government deal reached in Mecca between Hamas and Fatah was thrown into question Wednesday night when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas canceled the Thursday speech in which he intended to present the deal to the Palestinian people.
Abbas also called off a Thursday visit to the Gaza Strip, where he was slated to deliver to Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh the letter of appointment for the establishment of the coalition government.
Palestinian sources said the crisis broke out due in part to disagreements over the Interior Ministry portfolio. According to the sources, the conflict primarily resulted from disagreement over appointments.
Haniyeh was supposed to serve his resignation Thursday immediately after Abbas’ speech. Now, however, Haniyeh has delayed his resignation.
Behind the delay
Hamas officials claimed the delay was due to technical problems, but Fatah representatives said it was because Hamas introduced conditions which contradicted the Mecca agreement.
In either case, it appeared that the unity government, which both sides declared would be established already this week, would not go into effect at present.
Meanwhile, the United States Congress decided to freeze the transfer of $86 million it pledged to the Palestinian president.
US President George W. Bush initially ordered the transfer as part of an American plan to help train security forces loyal to Abbas, but Congress is waiting until further details of the deal on the formation of a Palestinian unity government are brought to light.