Meeting to correlate with Paris Middle East peace conference in January; PLO confirms meeting to be hosted in Russia
The PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) announced that Russia will host a reconciliation meeting between Fatah and Hamas in January.
The announcement was made by Wasel Abu Yousef of the PLO Executive Committee on Monday following reports from Palestinian leadership calling for a Palestinian federation to unite Hamas and Fatah last week. The development is an additional effort by the Palestinians to unite amidst the United Nations Security Council resolution passed that deems Israeli settlements as illegal and calls for a Palestinian state in the West Bank per 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.
According to Abu Yousef “The Russians will host a meeting of Fatah, Hamas and other Palestinian officials in Moscow in the middle of January to discuss reconciliation… The Palestinian leadership wants to demonstrate that it is working on both the peace process through the Paris conference and reconciliation by way of the Moscow meeting,” Abu Yousef referring to the Paris Middle East peace conference scheduled for mid-January.
Israel has continuously rejected invitations to the conference, as Israel will only agree to the resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians if they are held directly and without preconditions. In November, Prime Minister Netanyahu officially denied an invitation by French envoy Pierre Vimont, stating that “Israel’s position to promote the peace process and reach an agreement will only come through direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Any other initiative, including this one, will only distance peace from the region.”
Fatah and Hamas formed a unity government in 2014 that resigned in August of 2015 following reports that Hamas was in indirect talks with Israel following Operation Protective Edge. The unity government was formed in April 2014, cutting then US-mediated peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in its last of four stages.
Last year, delegations from Fatah and Hamas met in Qatar, their meeting centered on ending its rivalry between the parties and reformation of its previously established unity government ahead of municipal elections in 2017. The Palestinian Authority claimed that reconciliation “is the main pathway to protecting the Palestinian national project” as well as a means to “counter Israel’s government plots aimed at destroying the two-state option,” PA President Mahmoud Abbas stating following their meeting “We must achieve Palestinian national reconciliation, and remove the causes of division through the formation of a national unity government and elections must be held.”
The Palestinian Authority cancelled its municipal elections in September of 2016, the first Palestinian elections to have been held in over a decade. The elections were cancelled as polls indicated Hamas winning the elections in a landslide.