Munib al-Masri, a prominent businessman and one of the mediators of the unity pact, said in an interview that the group “came a long way” in aligning its positions with those of Fatah.Masri and other independent mediators said the two factions have agreed to coordinate diplomacy and the confrontation with Israel, reining in further use of violence.“This is very important and provides a fantastic opportunity for real peace with all Palestinians, not just some of them,” said Mustafa Barghouti, an independent politician and activist who helped mediate the accord.The outlines of the new consensus were reflected in public remarks when the pact, brokered by Egypt, was signed in Cairo.Khaled Mashal, the Damascus-based leader of Hamas, took a step away from his group’s charter, which envisions an Islamic state in the entire area of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and talked of a Palestinian state in the territories bordering Israel.He said Hamas and Fatah had agreed to work toward the goal of “an independent and completely sovereign Palestinian state on the lands of the West Bank and Gaza Strip with Jerusalem as its capital, without a single settler, without giving up a single inch, and without giving up the right of return” of Palestinian refugees to their former homes in Israel.
several mediators who met with Hamas leaders in Damascus said the group had agreed to a joint platform with Fatah that envisions a Palestinian state next to Israel, not in its place. The mediators spoke in separate interviews, commenting on statements at the signing ceremony and drawing on their discussions with Hamas leaders.Furthermore, they said, Mashal’s statement that the Palestinians were ready to give “an additional chance” for peace and that they were committed to “one leadership” and “one authority” under the umbrella of the PLO meant that Hamas acknowledged Abbas’s role as negotiator on behalf of all factions.
Mahdi Abdul Hadi, a political analyst who was part of the mediation effort, said Hamas had effectively “legitimized the negotiation process for a two-state solution.”
Mashal said Fatah and Hamas had agreed to jointly guide diplomacy and “resistance” against Israel. Mediators said that meant any armed action would have to be cleared with Fatah, and since Abbas has emphatically opposed such attacks, they were effectively ruled out.
Hamas is “ready to continue the cease-fire in Gaza and for abstention from violence, given that they will not be attacked,” Barghouti said.