Barely a day has gone by, and already serious cracks are beginning to show in Palestinian plans to create an interim unity government in which both Hamas and Fatah will participate. The glaring differences of opinion and point of view become quite obvious when we consider quotes -- such as the following -- from various Palestinian and Israeli leaders:
"The new government and peace talks are two different things . . ."
Taher al-Nounou, a Hamas spokesman:
"There are no negotiations now, so let's not speak about illusions that may or may not happen . . . The Israeli government has nothing to offer to the Palestinians. It even refused to freeze settlements."
Mahmoud Zahar, a Hamas leader:
"Our program does not include negotiations with Israel or recognizing it. It will not be possible for the interim national government to participate or bet on or work on the peace process with Israel."
"The PA must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for peace with both."
Ehud Barak, Israeli Defense Minister:
"Hamas is a murderous terrorist organization that fires rockets at citizens and recently fired an antitank missile at a school bus. It is an organization with which we have nothing to discuss, and therefore we have nothing to talk about with it."
It becomes obvious then, that not only do the Palestinian and the Israeli leadership not see eye-to-eye -- there is no surprise there -- but even the Palestinian leaders themselves are not in agreement when it comes to negotiations with Israel. Palestinian National Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas claims that he alone will still possess the authority to engage in peace talks with Israel -- What peace talks? They're already dead -- while Hamas insists that the proposed interim unity government will have absolutely nothing to do with peace negotiations.
Clearly, a very bumpy road lies ahead, and the Israeli leadership must be rubbing its hands with glee as it watches Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh dance for dominance in the interim unity government.