Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Palestinian parties reach agreement

(Source Articles: Hamas and Fatah agree line on Israel - FT.com
Palestinian factions agree to recognize Israel? - CNN.com)

After months of high-tension between the Hamas and Fatah parties (the former being the current ruling party) in Palestine, the two factions have finally reached an agreement that seems to, at least, implicitly recognize Israel as a sovereign nation, though the militant Hamas attempted to cast doubt on that notion.

This agreement comes just days after a crisis began to erupt between Israel and Palestine due to the abduction of an Israeli soldier. On Monday, Israeli troops scrambled to Gaza and began threatening military action if the soldier was not returned. Even Egyptian and French diplomats involved themselves in order to quash a serious backlash from Israel. (see Palestinians and Israelis struggle to resolve crisis - FT.com)

Israeli officials believe that Meshaal, a Hamas leader exiled in Syria, gave the orders to kidnap the Israeli soldier and destroy any chance for peace between Israel and Palestine, but are nevertheless holding the Palestinian authority responsible until the soldier is returned. (see Israel threatens action over kidnapped soldier)

The kidnapping has exposed division amongst Hamas leaders, whose military takes credit for the kidnapping, but whose political branch says the soldier must be freed. Some factions have agreed to provide information to Israel about the missing soldier if the latter agreed to release Palestinians being held in Israeli jails.

Hamas and Fatah have been negotiating for months over whether to implement a plan drafted by both Fatah and Hamas members being held in Israeli jails. This plan would essentially have a Palestinian state side-by-side with an implicitly recognized Israeli state. Nevertheless, Israel and a few Hamas leaders have their doubts about whether the agreement recognizes Israel. Meanwhile, the document is expected to be approved by the leaders of Hamas and Fatah sometime today, and the international community waits to see if it will, indeed, recognize Israel.

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