Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced Saturday he has begun talks to establish a national unity government, based on agreements between Fatah and Hamas reached in Cairo and Doha.

Abbas called on all Palestinian factions to take part in the process, so he can publish two presidential decrees in the near future: one concerning a technocratic government and another that will set a date for parliamentary and presidential elections.

According to reports in Arab media, Abbas is scheduled to visit Cairo in the coming weeks to try and move forward with the reconciliation agreements. The Fatah party, as expected, expressed support for Abbas' move and said they will work to advance the agreement with all Palestinian factions.

Hamas, on the other hand, did not embrace the announcement as warmly as Fatah, saying the organization was not consulted and that it demands further reforms in areas such as the make-up of the government, the elections to the Palestinian National Council, the re-structuring of Fatah and PA institutions and security services. In a statement, Hamas said that the Cairo and Doha frameworks cannot be fully accomplished only on two levels – elections and a unity government – but that all of these issues must be included.

Sources in the Palestinian Authority who are loyal to neither side told Haaretz that Abbas' announcement is not seen as a step that could bring about the implementation of the reconciliation agreements. "Everyone is talking about reconciliation," they said, "but in practice the differences are still substantial, especially as Hamas is not interested in holding elections as the initial step but rather as the final one – a position opposed by Abbas and Fatah." According to these sources, Abbas has to announce his intention to establish a unity government so as not to be portrayed as the side that did not push for reconciliation.

Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian official told Haaretz over the weekend that the appointment of Dr. Mohammad Mustafa as prime minister instead of Salam Fayyad is doubtful , and that the U.S. has made clear it will not cooperate with him.

Dr. Mustafa, chairman of the Palestinian Investment Fund, has been mentioned as a front-runner. However, Abbas is believed to be hesitating because of the major impact Mustafa’s appointment could have on economic aid from the European Union and the United States, since both viewed Fayyad as independent and professional in his economic leadership of the West Bank.