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Palestinian official: Unity deal will aid peace process

شعار Al Jazeera Al Jazeera 19/10/2017
Hamas and Fatah signed a unity deal in Cairo last week in an effort to bridge a decade of divide between the two parties [Daylife] © Provided by Al Jazeera Hamas and Fatah signed a unity deal in Cairo last week in an effort to bridge a decade of divide between the two parties [Daylife]

The national unity deal between Hamas and Fatah is an "internal Palestinian matter" that will aid in bringing peace, a Fatah spokesman has told Al Jazeera after comments made by a US official demanding Hamas to disarm. 

"The deal that we signed with Hamas speaks about building a Palestinian state on the June 4, 1967 borders - which is in line with international law," Osama Qawasmeh said when asked about comments made by an American government official on Thursday. 

Jason Greenblatt, the US president's special representative for international negotiations, said Hamas must disarm if it wants any role in a unity government, in the first detailed US response to the unity deal signed last week. 

"Any Palestinian government must unambiguously and explicitly commit to nonviolence, recognise the state of Israel, accept previous agreements and obligations between the parties - including to disarm terrorists - and commit to peaceful negotiations," Greenblatt said in a statement, echoing Israel's position. 

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"If Hamas is to play any role in a Palestinian government, it must accept these basic requirements," he added, referring to the Middle East Quartet demands. 

The quartet, which comprises the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and Russia, was established in 2002 to aid the peace process. 

While the Palestinian Authority has accepted the key principles outlined by the quartet, Hamas views the demands as conflicting with its position of using armed resistance to fight the Israeli occupation. 

"I think we should clarify our position to the Americans that the unity deal will help the political process and will help bring peace," Qawasmeh said. 

"Israel is trying through its allies to pressure the Palestinian leadership. We declare that our decision is a Palestinian, independent, national decision and we will not go back to division," he added. 

Hamas and Fatah, the two most dominant parties in Palestinian politics, signed a unity deal in Cairo last week, in an effort to end a decade of divide between them. 

Hamas has been the de-facto ruler in the Gaza Strip since 2007 after the party defeated Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' long-dominant Fatah party in parliamentary elections.

When Fatah refused to recognise the vote, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in a bloody conflict, after which Israel imposed an airtight siege on the territory. 

The two groups have governed the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip respectively ever since. 

On Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government would refuse any diplomatic talks with the unity government if Hamas has any role in it. 

“Following previous decisions, the Israeli government will not hold political talks with a Palestinian government that is supported by Hamas, a terror organisation calling for the destruction of Israel,” the statement read.

And, a previous statement made on the Facebook page of Netanyahu's office on October 12 said: "Say yes to peace and no to joining hands with Hamas [...] reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas makes peace much harder to achieve". 

The so-called peace process has been stalled for decades, despite international initiatives to forge an agreement, with issues such as the status of Jerusalem, the more than five million Palestinian refugees, and the settlements blocking any progress. 

US President Donald Trump has said he aims to broker a peace deal but no substantive developments have been made so far. 

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Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) signed the Oslo Accords in 1993.

The agreement led to the creation of the Palestinian National Authority, or Palestinian Authority, an interim self-governing body meant to lead to an independent Palestinian State on the territories that Israel occupied in 1967 of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. 

But since then, Israel's settlement project in the occupied territories, which started in 1967, has only increased, blocking any chance of an independent Palestinian state. 

The number of Israelis that were transferred to live in the occupied West Bank rose from 111,000 to 750,000, according to Palestinian statistics. 

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