Hamas-Fatah Meeting Canceled, in Major Setback to Palestinian Unity

Officials from Hamas and Fatah acknowledge that there are still disagreements over who the prime minister will be for the new unity government.

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Palestinian officials say a high-profile meeting between the leaders of the rival Fatah and Hamas movements has been called off.

Tuesday's meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshal had been expected to name the prime minister over an emerging reconciliation government.

In this photo released by the Hamas Media Office, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas shakes hands with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal Cairo, Egypt on May 4, 2011.Credit: AP

But officials from both sides acknowledge there are still disagreements over who the prime minister will be. They say the meeting has been postponed indefinitely.

The officials spoke Sunday on condition of anonymity pending a formal announcement.

The decision is a setback to last month's unity deal between Hamas and Fatah. At that time, they pledged to end a four-year rift that has left the Palestinians with rival governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Reconciliation is essential for the Palestinians to fulfill their goal of establishing an independent state in the two areas, which lie on opposite sides of Israel.

The two factions have been divided over how to deal with Israel. Fatah favors peace with Israel, while Hamas has rejected international demands to renounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist.