Atul Aneja

No call for Israel recognition

DUBAI: Palestinians have been celebrating in the streets of Gaza after rival factions agreed to a power-sharing formula that promises to establish a national unity government. President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads Fatah and top leaders from the rival Hamas, concluded an agreement in Mecca. Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, facilitated the crucial meeting. Talks were held after weeks of intra-Palestinian violence, which had claimed 130 lives.

Ismail Haniya of Hamas, who is Prime Minister, would retain his post under the new dispensation. Independents would run the Foreign, Finance and Interior Ministries.

The Hamas would reportedly keep nine Cabinet posts, Fatah six and one each would be allocated to four other parties. The agreement does not call for an explicit recognition of Israel.

There was celebratory gunfire in Gaza and fireworks lit up the sky following the deal. Vehicles flew the green Hamas flags and unfurled yellow banners of Fatah. However, some Hamas leaders counselled patience. Speaking in Gaza, Hamas lawmaker Mushir Al-Masri, said it would not be easy to implement the deal and "to prevent those seeking to spoil the Palestinian unity." The Hamas has agreed to "respect" past peace agreements, but has not said that it would stand "committed" to them, as demanded by Mr. Abbas earlier.