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Haniyeh to meet Qatari emir on reconciliation, Gaza rebuilding

Ismail Haniyeh will meet Qatar's emir for talks reconstruction in Gaza and inter-Palestinian reconciliation, Hamas spokesman says

Ahram Online , Thursday 18 Apr 2013
Qatar-Hamas Relations
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, Emir Hamad of Qatar and their wives at ceremony in Gaza Strip, October 2012 (Photo: Reuters)
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Hamas Premier Ismail Haniyeh is commencing a visit to Qatar to meet Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, spokesman of the Hamas government in Gaza Taher El-Nounou told Egypt's state-run MENA news agency Thursday.

El-Nounou stated that the sides will discuss the issue of reconstruction in the Gaza Strip, with Qatar alreading having provided a $407 million grant for the same.

Tens of buildings, media centres, and infrastructure facilities were destroyed in Gaza during non-stop Israeli air strikes on heavily populated areas last November.

These attacks led to the death of more than 140 Palestinians, while five Israelis died as a result of rockets fired by Hamas fighters on Israel. An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Hamas and Israel was announced 21 November.

The Hamas spokesman added that the top-level Hamas-Qatari meeting will also tackle the issue of inter-Palestinian reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

"This will include discussions on the Qatari call for new reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo," El-Nounou said.

Last month, a senior member of Palestinian movement Fatah described the Qatari call as “suspicious and unnecessary.” Hamas has reportedly welcomed the offer of talks.

Azzam Al-Ahmed, a member of Fatah's Central Committee who is in charge within Fatah of reconciliation efforts, said that the reconciliation process with Hamas is moving forward through a "specified timetable." 

"Too much discussion about this issue is a waste of time. We are very optimistic about the reconciliation process [and] we are in constant contact with Egyptian officials," Al-Ahmed said.

The Fatah leader said he expected that talks with Hamas over a national unity government would take place at the same time as discussions over the updating of the voter registration list.

"We might just need 24 hours for government talks. President Mahmoud Abbas said before that he would issue two decrees, one calling for elections and other on the formation of a new government," he said.

At their first meeting in almost a year, Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshal agreed in January to revive a stalled reconciliation deal between the rival Palestinian factions

On their visits to Cairo, Abbas and Meshal each held separate talks with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

"Morsi promised to work towards lifting the Gaza blockade and helping Palestinians out of their financial crisis, lobbying donors and our Arab brothers," Al-Ahmed told AFP at the time of the meeting.

Yousef Rizq, political advisor to Haniyeh, said Abbas wanted the election committee to end its work creating a "consensus government" and move towards holding elections, so as to activate the 2011 Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal.

The deal had been intended to pave the way for presidential and legislative elections by May 2012, but disagreements over who would head up a transitional government snarled implementation of the agreement.

The two Palestinian leaders also agreed to allow Hamas a degree of representation in the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which has historically been led by Fatah.

In early 2012, Meshal and Abbas signed a new deal in Doha, under which the latter would head the interim government. But Hamas leaders in Gaza rejected the arrangement, accusing Meshal of taking decisions unilaterally.

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