Hamas, Fatah Meeting Postponed Indefinitely

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- The meeting scheduled to take place in Cairo on Tuesday between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Damascus-based Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal has been postponed indefinitely, Fatah spokesman Azzam al-Ahmed said Monday.

"The two movements have agreed to look for a new date for the meeting," he said.

Last Wednesday, al-Ahmed announced that the two factions had reached an agreement on the makeup of the coalition and would disclose the details at a meeting in Cairo on Tuesday.

In April, after a four-year hiatus, the two groups signed an Egyptian-mediated reconciliation agreement in Cairo, promising to form an interim government until elections could be held in about a year.

But the two factions remain divided over who will serve as prime minister. Fatah wants Salam Fayyad -- appointed by Abbas after the violent military coup by Hamas in the Gaza Strip four years ago.

Hamas strongly opposes Fayyad.

"It is certain we will not accept Fayyad either as the head of the government or as a minister in that government," Hamas legislator Salah Bardaweel said in an official statement last week. He cited "four years of siege, arrests and torture of Hamas leaders and members linked to the name of Salam Fayyad."

In an interview on Lebanese television, Abbas said he has the authority to choose a prime minister who represents his policies, namely Fayyad.

"I am interested in a government that would push us forward and accomplish diplomatic feats and not a government that would bring about another blockade," the Israeli daily Ha'aretz quoted Abbas as saying. 

Abbas also spoke of his willingness to negotiate with Israel rather than seek unilateral recognition of statehood at the United Nations in September, but not "without guarantees or a freeze on settlements."

Abbas said while borders and security are two of the main issues, he would not compromise on Jerusalem.

"If Jerusalem will not be the capital of Palestine, there will be no state at all," he said.

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