Middle East

Middle East press uncertain on Palestinian unity deal

Mahmoud Abbas (left) and Khaled Meshaal sign an Palestinian national unity government accord in Doha
Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshaal of Hamas signed the accord in Qatar

Media commentators in the Middle East have expressed both hope and doubt about the agreement between the two main Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, on the formation of a national unity government.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will head the cabinet of politically independent technocrats while it organises elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which Hamas has governed since 2007.

Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said Mr Abbas would be abandoning the way of peace if he implemented the deal with Hamas. Israel considers Hamas to be a terrorist group.

Pro-Fatah newspaper Al-Quds

"At last they agreed... The government at the centre of much debate and inflexible positions is not an objective in itself, but rather a means to overcome the many obstacles to reconciliation and the restoration of national unity. There are dozens of weighty issues that need to be resolved, primarily holding presidential and parliamentary elections, rebuilding institutions and reinvigorating the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)."

Adli Sadiq in Palestinian Authority newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadidah

"There are influential groups in the Gaza Hamas organisation that will be put to the test. They will have to choose between Palestinian national unity as embodied in a single entity, or opt for the illusion of victory and the benefits and privileges of power. I expect that implementation of the agreement will face many problems."

Adil Abdul Rahman in Al-Hayat al-Jadidah

"Again Netanyahu meddles in the reconciliation process and repeats the same hostility to Palestinian unity. He makes out that unity is the opposite of the peace process, and says President Mahmoud Abbas is no longer a 'man of peace'. The position of the prime minister of the right-wing Zionist and hardline government is not new, and stems from the same racist principle unreceptive to the interests of the Palestinians and Arabs. It also reflects his attempt to continue evading any commitment to peace."

Hani al-Masri in pro-Fatah newspaper Al-Ayyam

"The reinvigoration of the PLO and Palestinian unity should lead to a strong wave of opposition from Israel, the United States, countries in the international community and maybe even Arab states. Nevertheless, without achieving this objective, it will be impossible for the Palestinian people to restore even their minimal national rights."

Isam Shawir on Hamas-run Gaza website Filastin Online

The Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) should play a real role without hindrance, and supervise the transitional government, even if it is headed by the president. This is particularly true as we need to amend the Election Law and have it approved by the Council."

Avi Issacharoff in liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz

"Israel will have difficulty stopping the Palestinians from forming a caretaker government, since it will be headed by Abbas and will not consist of Hamas members... Israel will also have to decide whether to allow Hamas to take part in elections in East Jerusalem, or prevent it from doing so at the risk of angering the international community."

Reuven Berko in pro-government Israeli daily Yisrael Hayom

"Hamas is incapable of delivering the goods that Abbas and the other illusionists expect. In its ranks there is agreement on strategy, but there is debate on rhetoric. Senior Hamas figure Dr Mahmoud Zahhar scatters about statements that he does not believe in reconciliation but only armed struggle. [Gaza Hamas leader Ismail] Haniya was kind enough to agree to a long-term 'truce' only if Israel agreed to a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, Jerusalem as capital of Palestine, and the return of the refugees. [Hamas political leader Khaled] Meshaal, architect of the Doha agreement, called in his summing speech for attacks on the Occupation and the restoration of rights."

Editor Abdel Bari Atwan in London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi

"We have grown tired of repeated handshakes and signatures before television cameras, only for the situation to return to square one. We fear that the new agreement will lead to the birth of new divisions, without solving the original problems."

Qatar's Al-Rayah

"Qatar is betting on the efforts of Hamas and Fatah to restore unity among Palestinian political groups. It believes in the goodwill of both parties and their determination to put an end to the state of division. This would enhance resistance and put an end to the occupation."

Hani al-Misri in Lebanon's liberal Al-Safir

"To get things on the right track, the reconciliation agreement should simultaneously implement reform of the PLO and legislative and presidential elections. The agreement should not have been divided, as this shows a preoccupation with procedure and a failure to focus on the main issues."

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites