(AFP) – Jun 24, 2011
ANKARA — Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas vowed Friday to press ahead with efforts for a unity government, as disagreements with Hamas continue to snag the process.
"We are continuing on the path of reconciliation and there will be no turning back," Abbas said after talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that marked the end of his four-day visit to Ankara.
"We will make all efforts possible until the unity of our nation is achieved and a transitional government is established," he told reporters through an interpreter.
On Sunday, a Palestinian official cited Abbas' trip to Turkey among the reasons for the indefinite postponement of his meeting with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal, which had been scheduled for Tuesday in Cairo.
The two were to have finalised the formation of a unity government.
But other officials said later that disagreement over who should be the next Palestinian premier was holding up the creation of an interim government.
The Cairo meeting was postponed due to Hamas opposition to the reappointment of Western-backed economist Salam Fayyad, they said.
On Tuesday, the day Abbas arrived in Ankara, Meshaal was in Istanbul holding talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on ways to overcome disagreements with Fatah.
A senior Palestinian official familiar with the talks told AFP in Ramallah that Turkey had informed Abbas that Hamas adamantly refused to accept Fayyad's reappointment.
He said Hamas would accept "any other official the president proposes, just not Salam Fayyad."
Hamas associates Fayyad with a crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank in cooperation with Israel.
Under a unity deal signed in May, the old rivals must agree on independent figures to be included in a government that will lay the groundwork for legislative and presidential elections within a year.
Turkey has sought to mediate in efforts to reconcile Fatah and Hamas, braving Israel's ire over contacts with Meshaal's radical Islamist group.
Erdogan offered "all support" to secure Palestinian unity and stressed that Ankara "does not want to see bloodshed between brothers in Palestine."
He promised to "resolutely" support a Palestinian bid for membership in the United Nations.
Turkey will host a meeting of Palestinian ambassadors, scheduled for July 23-24 in Istanbul, Erdogan said.
He renewed a call on Israel "to lift as soon as possible the inhumane and unlawful blockade" of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and allow the entry of goods, notably construction materials to rebuild infrastructure destroyed during a major Israeli offensive.
Relations between one-time allies Turkey and Israel were soured last year when Israeli troops killed nine Turks in a raid on a Turkish ferry leading an international aid flotilla that attempted to break the blockade of Gaza.
Their ties had already been strained over Erdogan's frequent outbursts against Israel and his defence of Hamas.
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