Abbas, Mashaal hail Palestinian unity


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said they turned a "new page" in Palestinian unity after meeting in Cairo.

Their Nov. 24 meeting was the first time that the Palestinian leaders had met face to face since they signed a reconciliation deal in May. The deal called for new elections in a year. The Nov. 24 meeting reportedly did not make progress toward implementing the deal.

"We want to assure our people and the Arab and Islamic world that we have turned a major new and real page in partnership on everything to do with the Palestinian nation," Mashaal said, according to the French news agency AFP.

Abbas said, "There are no differences between us now."

Hamas has refused to recognize Israel, even as part of a Palestinian unity government.

On Nov. 23, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Israel will not recognize a future Palestinian unity government and will not transfer it tax funds collected for the Palestinian Authority unless Hamas recognized Israel. 

"Israel will not recognize it, will not negotiate with it and will not transfer it even one dime," Lieberman said.

Israel has been withholding about $100 million in tax payments collected on the Palestinians’ behalf since the Palestinians were accepted as a full member of UNESCO, the United Nations scientific and cultural agency, and is continuing to withhold them over Fatah-Hamas unity talks.

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