Reporting from Ramallah, West Bank — Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said Monday he wants to include leaders of the rival Hamas movement in his next government as part of an effort to end the nearly 4-year-old fracture in Palestinian leadership.
Though details have not been worked out and Fayyad does not appear to have formally unveiled the initiative to Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip, the prime minister said his plan would permit Hamas to retain security control of the seaside enclave while receiving certain posts in a reformed Cabinet.
The Palestine Liberation Organization, which controls the West Bank and created the Palestinian Authority, disbanded the previous Cabinet a week ago and asked Fayyad to form a new one.
In unveiling his plan to reporters Monday, Fayyad said he would travel to Gaza to explain the reunification proposal to Hamas leaders.
In Gaza, a Hamas leader rejected the idea.
"This call is illegitimate and so is Fayyad," said Hamas official Ismail Radwan. He said that "a unity government will not be formed until we reach a solution to our differences."
Previous attempts to reconcile the two Palestinian factions have failed, and it was unclear whether the latest proposal would be any different. But both factions are facing growing calls from citizens in the West Bank and Gaza to end their dispute.
Deep divisions remain. Fatah, the PLO's main faction and party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, has pursued peace talks with Israel as the best option to achieve statehood and has disavowed violence. Hamas, which Israel and the U.S. label a terrorist organization, has dismissed peace talks as fruitless and refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist or to renounce armed resistance.
Those differences helped lead to the collapse of the last unity government, formed in 2007, following Hamas' victory in 2006 elections.
Abukhater is a special correspondent.
Times staff writer Edmund Sanders in Jerusalem and special correspondent Ahmed Aldabba in Gaza City contributed to this report.