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Page last updated at 15:17 GMT, Monday, 16 March 2009

Palestinians discuss unity talks

While rival Palestinian factions try to form a new national unity government at talks in Cairo, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank discuss the chances of their success and what they hope a new government would achieve.

SAMEER KRAISHI, computer programmer in Ramallah, W Bank

There are so many competing interests, I can't see success coming out of this.

Sameer Kraishi

Hamas want their own Islamic state in Gaza. They don't use the word "Palestine" anymore in their political talk, it's just "Islam" or "Gaza".

And they won't want an agreement which requires them to close the tunnels from Egypt.

The West Bank is Fatah's playground. It's just a few old leaders making all the decisions. It's also a playground for US and EU policies.

Economically the USA is very active here; it's trying to be a part of everything, starting with agriculture and ending with cultural policy.

I ask myself why is the US spending so much money here? I think it's aimed at making Palestinians forget that the occupation exists.

By building us businesses and giving us cars, they're making the economy look better, and maybe that will help people forget the occupation.

I am against their interference here and against Islamist policy in Gaza.

As I talk to you I look out of my window and see the hillside where I used to play as a kid - with an Israeli settlement on top of it. I'll never forget my play area, but my little brother never knew it.

When he plays, he goes to EU and UN-funded youth groups. I think all this money is aimed at making us accept the status quo.


NABEEL ABU JAZAR, in Rafah, Gaza Strip
Nabeel Abu Jazar

I don't think the talks will be successful. Even if they manage to sign an agreement in Egypt, will they ever implement it in Gaza?

I support the legal Fatah government in the West Bank. I work for the Palestinian Authority in intelligence and I still receive a salary from them.

This has made my life difficult with Hamas. They have arrested me twice.

What do I want from the talks? I want justice. We face huge violence from Hamas: they kill people, maim them, torture them. During the Hamas takeover in June 2007, hundreds of people died.

I also want elections. If we go to the polls, I think Hamas will lose. We need a government that is acceptable, and we need the international community to end the embargo on the Gaza Strip. All the borders are closed and we cannot move.

It's impossible for Hamas and Fatah to both rule, because they have such different agendas. Hamas has an agenda from Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

Fatah has a different agenda, not resistance so much, but negotiations with Israel.

We have a saying: you cannot rule with two heads. We only need one head to control Gaza.


AHMED ALNAJJAR, government worker in the Gaza Strip

Ahmed al-Najjar

This international money and aid should not be used as a sword on the neck of Hamas and Fatah.

It should be given directly to the people of Gaza, either through the legitimately elected government, Hamas, or through the UN, but it should be delivered to those who need it.

I do hope that the current round of talks will be successful. Hamas and Fatah should make some concessions for the Palestinian people, they should act in the higher interest.

Inshallah, so long as we have the will to achieve reconciliation it will happen. We can form a national government, open the borders, let aid in. I also want political prisoners, especially our brothers in the West Bank, to be released.

I will vote for Hamas. You, the West, wanted us to practice democracy and we did. Shame on you for not accepting the result

I think Hamas and Fatah have almost equal support among the Palestinian people. We cannot get rid of each other.

The outgoing Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, was not appointed by the Palestinian people. He was the choice of America and Israel. I don't think he did any good.

I guess he thought that this round of talks might be successful, so he wanted to leave before he was pushed.

I would welcome new elections. I will vote for the honest, right thinking people, who will represent Palestinians. I will vote for Hamas.

You, the West, wanted us to practice democracy and we did [in January 2006 when Hamas won the election in Gaza]. Shame on you for not accepting the result.

You should leave people to act according to their will and choice. Otherwise you will be a hypocrite.


ELIAS AL-ARJA, businessman in Bethlehem, West Bank

Elias al-Arja

I'm not optimistic these talks will work. Hamas and Fatah are both so rigid, it won't be easy to change their minds.

However, as a businessman I want to see them form a coalition government. The world needs to see there is one government of the Palestinian people.

Not like in 2006 when Hamas won elections and no-one worked with them. That was very bad for business.

Business is good right now. I have a textiles business and I run hotels. Tourist numbers are up because there is no security problem.

We sell our clothes to the Israeli market - our main problem is the border between the West Bank and Israel and the checkpoints. It's very difficult to move goods around. The Israelis are always afraid of what's inside the merchandise.

If there's no agreement it'll be worse for Gaza than for us.

In the West Bank life goes on OK.

I am sorry to see the Prime Minister Salam Fayyad going. Things got better when he was around. The economy improved and the level of corruption dropped.

I think he wants to give both sides a chance to reach agreement. He's an intelligent guy and does the right thing.




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