Ri­val Pales­tinian fac­tions to meet in Gaza

Daily Trust - - MIDDLE EAST & ASIA -

A del­e­ga­tion sent by Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas is set to ar­rive in the Gaza Strip for a new round of Pales­tinian rec­on­cil­i­a­tion talks with ri­val po­lit­i­cal fac­tion Ha­mas.

The West Bank del­e­ga­tion is ex­pected to ar­rive on Tues­day af­ter­noon and will have its first meet­ing with Ismail Haniyeh, Ha­mas’ Gaza-based prime min­is­ter.

Mustafa Bargh­outi, the sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the Pales­tinian Na­tional Ini­tia­tive, told Al Jazeera that the five­mem­ber del­e­ga­tion in­cludes of­fi­cials from Ab­bas’ Fatah party, left­ist fac­tions in the Pales­tinian Lib­er­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion (PLO) and Pales­tinian busi­ness­man Mu­nib al-Masri.

Bargh­outi said Is­rael tried to block the del­e­ga­tion at Erez cross­ing, on Gaza’s north­ern bor­der with Is­rael, but it al­lowed the del­e­gates through “af­ter [they] threat­ened… to travel through Egypt”.

Ha­mas and Fatah, the two main Pales­tinian po­lit­i­cal fac­tions, have been di­vided since fac­tional fight­ing broke out af­ter Ha­mas’ vic­tory in Pales­tinian leg­isla­tive coun­cil elec­tions in 2006.

A year later, Ha­mas took con­trol of the be­sieged Gaza Strip, while the US-backed Pales­tinian Author­ity rules over parts of the oc­cu­pied West Bank.

Bargh­outi said the dis­cus­sions on Tues­day would fo­cus on im­ple­ment­ing ear­lier rec­on­cil­i­a­tion agree­ments bro­kered by Egypt and Qatar in 2011 and 2012. The Doha Agree­ment stip­u­lated that pres­i­den­tial and leg­isla­tive elec­tions be held un­der the di­rec­tion of Ab­bas.

“In brief, there must be no se­lec­tiv­ity in im­ple­ment­ing the agree­ments we signed,” Yahia Moussa, a Gaza-based Ha­mas of­fi­cial, told Al Jazeera. “All the files should be tack­led side-by­side.”

On Tues­day, Egypt al­lowed a se­nior Ha­mas of­fi­cial, Moussa Abu Mar­zouk, into Gaza through Rafah cross­ing to take part in the dis­cus­sions. Ha­mas also re­leased 10 Fatah pris­on­ers be­fore the meet­ing as a good­will ges­ture.

Abu Thaer, one of the re­leased Fatah pris­on­ers, said: “This is a good step to achieve rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. We hope there will be more steps… as there are still other Fatah mem­bers in Ha­mas jails for more than seven years.”

The lat­est round of talks comes as the two fac­tions are un­der out­side pres­sure. The PA is deal­ing with the loom­ing break­down of US-spon­sored peace ne­go­ti­a­tions with Is­rael, while Ha­mas is at­tempt­ing to ease a se­vere eco­nomic cri­sis in Gaza, largely due to a break­down in re­la­tions with neigh­bour­ing Egypt.

The West Bank del­e­ga­tion is ex­pected to meet with Ha­mas Prime Min­is­ter Ismail Haniyeh [Reuters].

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