Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Israel's negotiating partner

In a blow to Palestinian unity efforts, a meeting in Cairo planned for this week so that the leaders of the two main factions could announce a new government has been called off for lack of agreement on a prime minister, Palestinian officials said Sunday.

The meeting had been set for Tuesday with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and Khaled Meshal of Hamas. Abbas' Fatah faction announced the cancellation in the West Bank, and Hamas officials here confirmed it. Abbas had been hoping to forge an image of a united Palestinian front as he laid the groundwork to seek international recognition of statehood at the U.N. in September.

Abbas has been pushing hard to keep in place Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who is widely admired in the U.S. and Europe, the sources of hundreds of millions of dollars in annual aid to the Palestinian Authority, and in Israel, whose security officials cooperate with those under him in the West Bank.

But Hamas leaders despise Fayyad, considering him a stooge of Israel and the West and blaming his security authorities in the West Bank for arresting and mistreating their followers.

Obama wants Israel to make concessions to "the Palestinians" as a precondition to negotiations. Which Palestinians?

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