PLO, not interim government, will run peace talks: Abbas

AFP, Thursday 28 Apr 2011

The Palestinian president insisted he would continue to set policy vis-a-vis Israel

The PLO will remain in charge of peace talks with Israel and will not hand that responsibility to a new interim government, Mahmud Abbas said on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters in Ramallah, the Palestinian president insisted he would continue to set policy vis-a-vis Israel, regardless of a unity deal between his Fatah party and the rival Hamas movement.

"This government (will be) authorised to do two things -- fix a date for the elections and rebuild Gaza," he said in reference to a new transition government which is to be jointly put together by both factions with the aim of setting a date for presidential and parliamentary elections within a year.

"Politics is for the PLO and we will continue to follow my policies," he said, referring to the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

Wednesday's deal, which came after 18 months of fruitless talks, will see the two parties form an interim government of independent politicians chosen by both sides, in a process expected to begin next week, officials said.

Abbas said it was "too early to talk about who will be the prime minister," as several media reports suggested current prime minister Salam Fayyad would be shunted aside due to objections from Hamas.

His comments were made during a visit by Israeli peace activists to his West Bank headquarters in Ramallah.

The agreement, announced in Cairo on Wednesday, saw Abbas's Fatah party, which dominates the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, and Gaza's Islamist rulers agree to form a transitional government ahead of polls within a year.

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