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Fatah and Hamas leaders meet for ‘reconciliation’ talks

© AFP file photo

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-01-09

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal began talks in Egypt on Wednesday night to discuss how to implement a reconciliation deal that they agreed on in Cairo in 2011.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Hamas exiled chief Khaled Meshaal began talks in Cairo late on Wednesday on a stalled reconciliation deal, an AFP correspondent said.

It is the first meeting between Fatah leader Abbas and Meshaal, who heads the Hamas movement that rules Gaza, in almost a year, and is aimed at ending years of bitter rivalry between the two groups.

On their visit to Cairo, the two leaders also held separate meetings with Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

Morsi met Abbas and discussed reconciliation between Palestinian factions, the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip and the financial woes of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, which Abbas's Fatah dominates, an official said.

"Morsi promised to work towards lifting the Gaza blockade and helping Palestinians out of their financial crisis, lobbying donors and (our) Arab brothers," Fatah's lead negotiator Azzam al-Ahmed told AFP.

The Egyptian president also held separate talks with Meshaal.

Meshaal and Abbas are to discuss the implementation of a unity agreement reached in April 2011 which was aimed at ending years of infighting between their rival factions.

Years of bitter rivalry between the two Palestinian national movements exploded into violence in June 2007 when Hamas forces seized control of Gaza a year after they won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections.

Under Egyptian mediation, the two factions inked a unity agreement in May 2011, but the main provisions of that deal have yet to be implemented.

Egypt has boosted support for Gaza since Islamist Morsi was elected president in June.

Meshaal met Abbas in Cairo in February 2012, but there has been little progress towards ending the crippling divide between their movements.

Recriminations

And even as the two prepared to meet on Wednesday, there was no let up in the recriminations.

"Egypt's invitation does not necessarily mean this meeting will lead to a serious start of implementing" the agreement, said Yousef Rizq, political adviser to Hamas's prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniya.

"Abbas's insistence on holding elections first affects the atmosphere of the meeting," he said, stressing that all the provisions in the agreement should go into effect simultaneously.

But Ahmed said Abbas wanted the election committee to resume its work, "and after the committee ends its work, and there is a consensus government, then there will be elections."

He said a senior Hamas official had told him the reconciliation deal should be implemented after the Islamist movement "reorders it house" -- in an allusion to possible elections for a new leadership for the Islamist group.

Egyptian officials have said that a reconciliation agreement that would allow Hamas representation in the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organisation, historically headed by Fatah, and the formation of a unity government, are opposed by Washington.

The United States, along with other Western countries and Israel, say Hamas must renounce violence and recognise Israel.

Hamas is officially sworn to Israel's destruction but says it could accept a Palestinian state on the basis of the lines which existed before the 1967 Six Day War during which the Jewish state captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

(France24 with wires)
 

Date created : 2013-01-09

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