GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - The Palestinian president and prime minister, heading
rival movements, on Monday failed again to agree on a joint government that
might lead to lifting Western sanctions that have bankrupted their
administration - but they planned to keep trying.
Abbas, a moderate, and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas met in Gaza for
more than two hours. But officials said the talks ended with no accord on a
national unity government made up of independent experts. Both sides said talks
would continue Tuesday; they would not say what issues remain open.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas,
also known as Abu Mazen, waves to Palestinian students demonstrating as he
leaves after opening an exhibition in the West Bank town of Ramallah,
Monday, Nov. 6, 2006. [AP]
Mustafa Barghouti, an independent politician playing a key role in the talks,
called the meeting "fruitful." He said, "There was agreement on some issues, but
some issues still need to be discussed."
The talks came as fighting in northern Gaza heated up on the sixth day of an
Israeli offensive. At least seven Palestinians were killed, including a suicide
Islamic Jihad released a video of the bomber, identified as Mirvat Masoud,
after she blew herself up, wounding an Israeli soldier. "My dear mother, I ask
you to remain strong and forgive me, and God willing, we will meet in heaven,"
she said on the video. Only a few of the more than 100 Palestinian suicide
bombers in the past six years were women.
An Israeli missile aimed at a group of militants landed near a Palestinian
kindergarten, killing a teenage boy, critically wounding a teacher and seriously
wounding eight children, doctors said.
The army said an airstrike in the same area targeted four militants coming to
collect launchers used to fire rockets into Israel.
Abbas has been urging Hamas, which controls most government functions, to
join his Fatah movement in a coalition to end international sanctions. The
platform of the emerging government is vague about the key international demand
of recognizing Israel and may not be enough to end the painful aid boycott.
Negotiators and officials in Hamas, which has repeatedly rejected the
international conditions since winning legislative elections in January, said an
agreement on forming a government was imminent.
"We are getting closer and closer toward a deal. Without having a strong
opportunity for this deal, Abu Mazen would not have come," Barghouti said. Abbas
is also known as Abu Mazen.
Under the emerging plan, the Hamas Cabinet and prime minister would step down
and be replaced by a team of experts in hopes of ending the Western boycott,
imposed when Hamas came to power in March.