The Palestinian envoy to Brussels, Leila Shahid, has called on the EU to support the new 'technocratic' Palestinian Authority (PA), agreed between Fatah and Hamas as a step towards unity and reconciliation.
In an exclusive interview with EURACTIV, she said that Fatah and Hamas leaders would sign the agreement next week, creating an interim administration that would respect all signed agreements and continue the non-violent path of the current PA.
Under the terms of the deal, official negotiations with Israel would still be conducted by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO).
"The EU should look at this as a very major step forward and support it," Shahid told EURACTIV, "because it can only be positive to unify one Palestinian position under the leadership of the PLO".
There was "no reason at all" why the EU's annual €500 million funding of the PA should be affected, in her view.
"Given the major changes in the Arab world, everyone should welcome a national coalition government that will have more credibility and the authority to sign a peace agreement," she said.
In a reference to Palestinian plans to seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state in September, "it is difficult to believe that the Palestinians can move towards statehood if they don't have national unity," she added.
There was no immediate reaction from the EU.
"We're still looking into this," Michael Mann, spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told EURACTIV. "Catherine Ashton will be talking to people in the region and in the EU over the next few days, to try to gauge where we are at."
EURACTIV understands that EU officials were in contact with Leila Shahid yesterday (28 April).
In a statement, Ashton later said: "The EU has consistently called for peace and reconciliation, under the authority of President Abbas, leading to an end to the division between the West Bank and Gaza and in support of greater security and stability across the region."
News of the accord between the two biggest Palestinian political factions shocked politicians and publics alike, across the world.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the PA had to choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas.
Negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel have been in deep freeze since September 2010, when Israel resumed building Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Reaction to the unity deal from Washington was cool bordering on frosty.
"The United States supports Palestinian reconciliation on terms which promote the cause of peace. Hamas, however, is a terrorist organisation which targets civilians," read a statement by White House spokesman Tommy Vietor.
According to Leila Shahid, neither Fatah nor Hamas will be represented among the "independent technocrats" who form the new interim government.
But details of its security arrangements, and indeed its composition, "will have to wait for the implementation of the agreement," she said.
"That will only happen after it is signed by President Abbas for Fatah and Khalid Meshaal for Hamas next week," she added.
Some reports suggest that officials and members of the US Congress will now try to force the Obama administration to reconsider its financial support for the Palestinian Authority.
But Shahid urged Brussels not to follow suit.
"The EU should not fall again into the trap of trying to boycott and marginalise any political party like it did in 2006, because that did not lead us closer to peace," she said. "On the contrary, it fuelled more violence and an all-out war against Gaza."
Fatah and Hamas had both learned from their previous mistakes, as she saw it. "I hope the international community will too," she said.