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Interview: Palestinian FM optimistic on reconciliation deal

English.news.cn   2014-05-28 06:20:51

RAMALLAH, May 27 (Xinhua) -- As the deadline is looming for rival Palestinian Hamas movement and Fatah party to form a unity government, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki voiced his optimism on the reconciliation deal as well as his concern about uncertainties after the latest negotiation endeavor with Israel faltered again.

Al-Maliki told Xinhua in an exclusive interview that he was optimistic that a unity government would soon be sworn in, stressing that it would end the rift between the two main Palestinian factions.

However, he played downed the significance of the unity government, saying that it would only be temporary and few changes of its role should be expected.

"The whole mission of the (unity) government is to prepare for elections within six months," Al-Maliki said. "So you should not expect that much from that (unity) government, because one has to look at the new government that will be formed after the elections. "

The two rival Palestinian factions announced on April 23 that a reconciliation deal was reached and that they planned to form an interim unity government within five weeks, after which elections would be held within six months.

The announcement was facing widespread skepticism from the Palestinians, as Fatah and Hamas have failed to implement previous deals reached under the auspices of Egypt and Qatar in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

However, the interim unity government will be sworn in before President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday, according to a source with the presidential headquarters.

The reconciliation deal has sent the already teetering Palestinian-Israeli peace talks on the shelf. Shortly after its announcement, Israel declared suspension of any future talks with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas, and imposed economic sanctions on the Palestinians.

"We don't expect Israel to cooperate with the new government. We expect Israel to put hurdles in the way of the new government," Al-Maliki said. "But for us, what's important is how the international community is reacting."

How the major powers react to the reconciliation deal seems to work in the Palestinians' favor. According to Israeli daily paper Haaretz, a senior White House official said that what Washington wants is a Palestinian government that upholds peace principles stipulated by the Quartet -- the United Nations, the United States, the European Union (EU) and Russia.

"In terms of how they build this government, we are not able to orchestrate that for the Palestinians," the official said.

Also, China hailed the reconciliation deal and called on the international community to give a clear signal of encouragement and offer continued assistance.

The EU has recently emphasized its support for a possible new Palestinian government comprising independent figures that "uphold the principle of non-violence," remain committed to a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and "accept previous agreements and obligations, including Israel's legitimate right to exist."

"Israel is the only country in the world who has taken a negative stand regarding the agreement signed on April 23," Al- Maliki said.

After his nine-month effort to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal formally collapsed at the end of April, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said it was time for Washington to "pause, take a hard look at these things, and find out what is possible and what is not possible in the days ahead."

Kerry's statement raised questions whether Washington would walk away from the quagmire, and the top Palestinian diplomat expressed his concern about not knowing what the next step might be.

"I don't know what we are going to do," Al-Maliki said. "Are the Americans going to reactivate the peace process later? I don't know. If China is going to come up with an idea? I don't know. If the Quartet will be meeting soon to propose something? I have no idea."

However, the Palestinian foreign minister stressed that maintaining the status quo was unacceptable, warning that alternatives to futile negotiations always remain open.

If the situation would continue without any prospects for the continuation of negotiation, the Palestinians would think of other options in coordination with the international community, he said.

Editor: An
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