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Fatah official's Gaza visit postponed indefinitely

AFP , Wednesday 21 May 2014
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A visit set for Wednesday by a senior Fatah official to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip to put the finishing touches on a Palestinian unity government has been postponed indefinitely, a Palestinian official said.

Last month, Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organisation, dominated by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah party, signed a reconciliation deal aimed at ending years of political division.

Under the terms of the deal, the two sides would form an "independent government" of technocrats, to be headed by Abbas, that would pave the way for long-delayed elections.

The government is due to be formed by May 28, and a Hamas official said Sunday it could be finalised within days.

But a Fatah spokesman said the visit by Azzam al-Ahmed "will not take place today but at a later date to be announced, since time is needed to study what has been agreed with Hamas."

He did not elaborate.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said "contacts are ongoing" between the two parties, without explaining the postponement.

Hamas, which does not recognise Israel, has ruled Gaza since it expelled Fatah after a week of deadly clashes in 2007.

Fatah and Hamas representatives have already met several times for talks on a final government line-up to end their division.

The April reconciliation agreement incensed Israel, putting the final nail in the coffin of faltering US-led peace talks with the Palestinians.

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