Abbas pledges unity government talks ‘in near future’

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Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas pledged to launch talks “in the near future” on forming a national unity cabinet, following the resignation of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Abbas made the remarks late Thursday at a meeting of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was attended by Fayyad.

“We will hold consultations in the near future to form a government,” said Abbas, according to a statement issued after the meeting.

The president has been pressed by members of his Fatah party to form a national unity government that would guarantee Palestinian national reconciliation with the rival Hamas movement.

Fayyad, who resigned on Saturday, was a bone of contention between Fatah, which dominates the West Bank, and the Islamist Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip.

Hamas never recognized Fayyad's authority, continuing instead to recognize its own premier, Ismail Haniya.

“The president must hold consultations with Palestinian movements to form a national unity government and set a date for elections,” Azzam al-Ahmed, a Fatah leader, told official Voice of Palestine radio on Monday.

The statement also called for the formation “as soon as possible of a national unity government comprising independent figures” in line with a 2011 reconciliation pact.

Fatah and Hamas signed an agreement in Cairo in 2011, pledging to set up an interim consensus government of independents that would pave the way for legislative and presidential elections within 12 months.

But implementation of the accord has stalled over the make-up of the interim government.

The executive committee said it “rejects any pretext used to undermine the launching of a serious process of national reconciliation” and urged Hamas to seize the moment.

Abbas is the chairman of the PLO, the Palestinian umbrella organization, which, in the eyes of the international community, is the sole body that purports to speak for all the Palestinian people.

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