Hamas and Fatah could announce a Palestinian power-sharing deal, including an armed wing, as early as January 30. Hamas is demanding the paramilitary forces have representation in any future government.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has already agreed to a joint leadership with Hamas, following inter-faction meetings sponsored by Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi, in Cairo last week. Abbas is expected to head the interim unity government.
The willingness of Abbas and his Fatah party share power with Hamas raises serious questions regarding the peace process with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made clear Abbas will have to decide whether to work on the side of peace or with Hamas, whose self-stated raison d'être is the destruction of Israel.
“Today there is no peace process because Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas won't agree to peace talks without preconditions. I'll make peace if my interlocutor is someone who doesn't embrace Hamas and doesn't greet the people who rained rockets on the country,” explained Netanyahu in an interview earlier this month on Israel's Channel 2 television.
Netanyahu has expressed willingness and consistently called for a return to direct peace talks with the Palestinians without preconditions.
Some 67-68 percent of the Israeli public supports a previously-proposed peace deal resulting in a demilitarized Palestinian state based on the 1949 Armistice Line.