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Divided Palestinians cancel meeting

Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is admired in the United States. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is admired in the United States.
New York Times / June 20, 2011

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — In a blow to Palestinian unity efforts, a meeting in Cairo planned for this week so that the leaders of the two main factions could announce a new government has been called off for lack of agreement on a prime minister, Palestinian officials said yesterday.

The meeting had been set for tomorrow with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and Khaled Meshal of Hamas. Abbas’s Fatah faction announced the cancellation in the West Bank, and Hamas officials confirmed it. Abbas had been hoping to forge an image of a united Palestinian front as he laid the groundwork to seek international recognition of statehood at the UN in September.

Abbas has been pushing hard to keep in place Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. He is widely admired in the United States and Europe, which are the sources of hundreds of millions of dollars in annual aid to the Palestinian Authority, and in Israel, whose security officials cooperate with those under Fayyad in the West Bank.

But Hamas leaders despise Fayyad, considering him a stooge of Israel and the West and blaming his security authorities in the West Bank for arresting and mistreating their followers.

“Salam Fayyad is a criminal who should be put on trial,’’ Mahmoud Zahar, a top Hamas official, said. “He has tortured our people in prison. He is not acceptable to anyone in Hamas.’’

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