AMMAN,(Reuters) – Leaders of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement endorsed on Saturday a national unity government with the rival Hamas group to end feuding they say Israel has exploited to stall on Middle East peace pledges.
Veteran Fatah leader Nabil Shaath said at the end of three days of talks in Amman that the 17-member Central Committee, the governing body of the long dominant movement, now sought a national unity government with the Islamist group which defeated Fatah in January elections.
“Palestinian blood is sacred and we will not allow any infighting and have agreed to work towards a national unity government,” Shaath told reporters.
“A national unity government will strengthen our hands to face the Israeli occupation,” Shaath added.
Abbas and Hamas agreed last week to restart negotiations on a unity government in the hope of easing a Western aid embargo imposed to pressure the militant group to recognise Israel and renounce violence.
Palestinians fear that if discussions between Hamas and Fatah failed, there is a danger of a return to a violent power struggle that followed the elections.
Other Palestinian leaders said the Israeli failure to achieve a military victory in Lebanon by eliminating Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas had given impetus to renewed efforts to unify ranks against a common enemy – Israel.
“The Israeli supremacy is gone … they cannot do whatever they want after Lebanon,” said Hani al-Hassan, an old guard Fatah politician.
Leaders of Fatah said they did not intend to put any conditions for joining a coalition government with Hamas but insisted there had to be a pragmatic approach towards resuming peace talks with Israel.
Fatah leaders also said they agreed to speed preparations for a long delayed party congress last held almost two decades ago.
The old generation of leaders will be challenged from a reform-minded young guard demanding a role in the decision making process.