Palestinian leaders reinforce Fatah-Hamas reconciliation in Qatar

Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshaal sign agreement in Qatar on Palestinian reconciliation.

Leaders of the two main Palestinian political parties, Fatah and Hamas, signed an agreement in Qatar on Monday, reinforcing efforts at reconciliation and reform.

Reports from Qatar say that current Palestinian Authority President and Chairman of the PLO, Mahmoud Abbas, will also be in charge of a new interim government as Prime Minister until upcoming elections usher in a democratically elected one.

Mahmoud Abbas met with Hamas’ politburo chief Khaled Meshaal for the second day of talks in Qatar. According to the Palestinian Central Elections Commission’s (CEC) Twitter feed, leaders of Palestinian political factions headed to the CEC offices in Ramallah to discuss the initiative.

The agreement also stipulates the convening of a committee to discuss reforms to the PLO’s highest body, the Palestinian National Council (PNC), set for February 18.

With the virtual collapse of the peace process and revolutionary turmoil engulfing the region, Palestinian politics has been focusing internally, and the division between factions–which has persisted since 2007–is viewed as untenable.

The first reconciliation agreement was signed in Cairo in May 2011. Qatar’s position facilitating negotiations demonstrates the enhanced role the Gulf nation is playing in regional politics and the difficulties Egypt is facing one year after its revolution.

Both Khaled Meshaal and Mahmoud Abbas have stated publicly that they will not stand for office again. Both men have been in office for many years and their departures will certainly leave a political vacuum.