Ha­mas says progress made in Pales­tinian rec­on­cil­i­a­tion talks

The Nation - - WORLD -

RI­VAL Pales­tinian fac­tions Ha­mas and Fatah have reached agree­ment on as­pects of their rec­on­cil­i­a­tion bid dur­ing talks me­di­ated by Egypt in Cairo this week, Ha­mas said yes­ter­day.

“An agree­ment was reached to­day be­tween Ha­mas and Fatah un­der Egyp­tian spon­sor­ship,” a state­ment from Ha­mas leader Is­mail Haniya’s of­fice said, with­out giv­ing fur­ther de­tails. Fayez Abu Eita, a Fatah spokesman and mem­ber of the party’s del­e­ga­tion in Cairo, told AFP de­tails would be an­nounced at a press con­fer­ence later on Thurs­day.

The two sides had been meet­ing in the Egyp­tian cap­i­tal since Tues­day, with the aim of end­ing a crip­pling decade-old split be­tween the ri­val fac­tions.

A party to the ne­go­ti­a­tions, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied, said the agree­ment would see forces of the West Bank-based Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity, which is dom­i­nated by Fatah, take con­trol of the Rafah bor­der cross­ing be­tween Gaza and Egypt.

He added that all Pales­tinian fac­tions would be­gin wider ne­go­ti­a­tions on the for­ma­tion of a na­tional unity gov­ern­ment in the com­ing two weeks.

Ha­mas seized Gaza from Fatah in a near civil war in 2007 and the two fac­tions have been at log­ger­heads ever since. Mul­ti­ple pre­vi­ous rec­on­cil­i­a­tion talks have failed.

Egypt has been keen to im­prove se­cu­rity in the Si­nai Penin­sula which bor­ders Gaza and where ji­hadist rebels have fought a long-run­ning in­sur­gency.

Last month, Ha­mas agreed to cede civil power in Gaza to the Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity but the fate of its vast mil­i­tary wing re­mains a sig­nif­i­cant is­sue for the two sides.

An Egyp­tian source close to the talks said in­tel­li­gence chief Khaled Fawzi had fol­lowed the talks closely.

Is­lamist move­ment Ha­mas is black­listed as a ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion by the United States and the Euro­pean Union.

It has fought three wars with Is­rael since 2008 and the block­aded Gaza Strip has faced de­te­ri­o­rat­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian con­di­tions.

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