Fayyad Reaches Out to Hamas

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad reached out to his Hamas counterparts on Sunday, saying the two factions should look to September elections and the formation of a unity coalition. Last Monday, President Mahmoud Abbas instructed Fayyad to dissolve the cabinet and form a new one.

Some analysts believe Fayyad's offer was made in view of the stalled peace talks and diminishing returns with the Obama administration, especially after the U.S. veto on Friday of the U.N. Security Council resolution labeling Jewish settlements "illegal."

"The Americans have chosen to be alone in disrupting the internationally backed Palestinian efforts," Fayyad said of the U.S. veto. "I found this offensive. We are not willing to compromise our national enterprise for a fistful of dollars, however big or small," he said.

Fayyad hoped his offer would convince Hamas to participate in legislative and presidential elections in September that would reconcile the two rival factions into one governing authority.

Late last week, Hamas announced it would not participate in elections by the "illegitimate" P.A. government. Hamas officials said reconciliation must take place before elections.

"Elections are not the magic solution to the Palestinian crisis," senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said last week.

According to media reports, Fayyad said Hamas could retain security control of the Strip if it would maintain a ceasefire with Israel. Until elections, Fayyad would govern the West Bank and Hamas would rule Gaza. Afterward, the two factions would negotiate the formation of a unity government.

"The split has been too long and should not continue and it won't end by itself," Fayyad said. "We need to move to end the split," he said.

Responding to Fayyad's offer, Damascus-based Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal said the group was considering "new initiatives."

"I need not say more than that these developments and changes around us with the curse of failure and standstill we have tasted and what Palestine suffers on all levels, we are forced to review the situation in Palestine beyond the headlines that some are trying to drown us in," Meshaal told participants at the opening of a Palestinian heritage center outside Damascus, the Ma'an News Agency reported.

"We in Hamas and the resistance factions and many of the respected Palestinian officials are keeping that in mind and will discuss our options," he said. "All of that will soon be before our people who alone possess the cause, the legitimacy, the decision and the choice," Meshaal said.

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