Palestinian reconciliation meeting postponed until Thursday: Fatah official

Ahram Online , Wednesday 16 Jan 2013

Second reconciliation talks in Cairo between Fatah and Hamas postponed until Thursday, Palestinian official reveals

Palestinian Reconciliation
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (R) speaks as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (L) listens during a ceremony to sign a pact between Hamas and Fatah to end a four-year rift, in Cairo May 4, 2011 (Photo: Reuters)

The second reconciliation meeting between Fatah and Hamas scheduled for Wednesday in Cairo has been delayed until Thursday for "technical reasons."

"The upcoming meeting will be a complementary step to set up specific timetables for what was agreed upon in last week's Cairo meeting," Azzam Al-Ahmed, a member of the Fatah central committee, told the Palestinian Maan News Agency

Al-Ahmed announced on Monday that a meeting with rival Palestinian movement Hamas would be held on Wednesday to discuss the possible resumption of reconciliation efforts from the same point at which they stalled last July.

He also asserted that reconciliation talks would include several parallel committees concerned with issues such as 'public freedoms' and 'community reconciliation'.

Hamas, for its part, has denied that last week's meeting saw any discussion of the resistance movements' military wing or Gaza-based security apparatus.

According to London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Fatah has demanded that Hamas dissolve its armed wings and recognise the National Security Forces as Palestine's only armed force.

The demand, however, was strenuously rejected by Hamas, the newspaper reported.

At their first meeting in almost one year, Palestinian President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas and head of Hamas' Political Bureau Khaled Meshaal agreed to revive reconciliation talks, following their separate talks with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo.

"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.

Yousef Rizq, political advisor to Hamas PM in Gaza Ismail Haniya, said Abbas he did not want the yet to be formed election committee to work on creating a "consensus government" but rather move towards holding elections, so as to activate the 2011 Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal.

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.

The two groups reached an Egyptian-sponsored unity agreement in April 2011, although the deal's main articles have not been applied so far.

In December, leaders of Hamas and Fatah called for the renewal of reconciliation attempts that have been stalled for more than one year.

In Gaza, Meshaal, in his first-ever trip to the coastal territory, said it was time for the bitter opponents to make good on the deal they signed in Cairo in 2011.

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.

In early 2012, Meshaal 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 Meshaal of taking decisions unilaterally.

However, the office of Israel's Premier Benjamin Netanyahu issued a press statement last week in which he had harshly criticised the top-level talks between both Palestinian leaders.

"This is not the behaviour of somebody seeking peace; Abu Mazen [Abbas] gave an embrace to the head of a terror organisation who only a month ago stated that Israeli should be wiped from the map," the Lebanese Daily Star website quoted Netanyahu as stating.

The United States, along with Western states and Israel, continue to argue that Hamas mush halt armed resistance activities and recognise Israeli in order to be included in any future peace talks.

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