Palestinian Authority leaders held emergency talks in Mecca on forming a national unity government. P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas opened negotiations with Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Wednesday on the terms for a coalition government that might prompt Western nations to resume direct aid to the Palestinian Authority. Abbas’ Fatah faction and Haniyeh’s Hamas have been at loggerheads since Hamas swept P.A. elections last year, triggering a Western aid embargo. Previous unity talks have fallen apart over Hamas’ refusal to accept international demands that it recognize Israel, accept past peace deals and renounce terrorism. Wednesday’s Saudi-sponsored talks are seen as especially crucial given a recent wave of clashes between Hamas and Fatah supporters in Gaza that have killed dozens of Palestinians.
Abbas, Haniyeh in unity talks