Fatah, Hamas meet in Cairo to discuss unity government role in Gaza

Al-Akhbar is currently going through a transitional phase whereby the English website is available for Archival purposes only. All new content will be published in Arabic on the main website (www.al-akhbar.com).

Al-Akhbar Management

Published Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Palestinian factions met in Cairo on Wednesday for two days of talks aimed at mending a rift that could threaten Egyptian-mediated negotiations to turn the Gaza ceasefire into a lasting truce.

The split between the Hamas and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction relates to several key issues including control of Gaza.

The ceasefire struck last month between Israel and the Palestinian resistance to end the war on Gaza included stipulations that the Palestinian Authority should take over civil administration in Gaza from Hamas.

But a dispute over the Palestinian Authority's non-payment of salaries to Gaza's public sector workers has brought tensions between the two main Palestinian factions to near-breaking point.

Sakher Bseiso, a Fatah central committee member taking part in the talks, told Reuters Fatah and Hamas would discuss issues including security, elections and governance of the Gaza Strip.

"The Cairo talks will discuss enabling the unity government to undertake its role in Gaza Strip and (conduct) bilateral relations between the two movements," he said.

Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy chairman of Hamas' political bureau, wrote on his Facebook page about "the Palestinian-Palestinian dialogue", saying: "The most important thing this dialogue needs is good intentions, mutual trust and national responsibility ... and commitment to what has been agreed upon."

Israel and Palestine agreed on Tuesday to resume talks late next month on cementing a Gaza ceasefire, allowing time for Palestinian factions to resolve their divisions.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Abbas Tuesday to discuss the situation in Gaza, a state department official said.

Kerry and Abbas agreed on the importance of providing humanitarian aid in Gaza, where a 50-day Israeli offensive destroyed homes and infrastructure in the densely populated enclave, leaving more than 100,000 Palestinians homeless in the long term according to the United Nations.

Speaking Monday, Abbas drew parallels with the century-long US struggle for civil rights, saying he was bringing a message of peace.

The veteran Palestinian leader is set to address the annual UN General Assembly on Friday.

Palestinian leaders have said Abbas intends to propose a three-year deadline for the end of the Israeli occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Meanwhile, Egyptian security officials said Wednesday's meetings were occurring under the supervision of Egyptian intelligence but gave no details, not even the location of the talks.

Egyptian-mediated talks in July and August secured a series of ceasefires aimed at laying the groundwork for talks on a broader deal.

Efforts to cement a permanent truce could prove difficult, though, with the sides far apart on their central demands, even if the dialogue among Palestinians yields a unified position.

Azzam al-Ahmed, a Fatah official leading the joint delegation in Cairo, said on Tuesday that as well as control of Gaza, Fatah wants decisions on war and peace to be taken at the national level rather than by individual factions.

The recent Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip left some districts completely devastated. More than 2,100 Palestinians, at least 70 percent of them civilians, were killed in the conflict according to the Gaza health ministry.

Sixty-seven Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel were also killed.

(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)


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