Pales­tinian unity talks con­tinue

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY THE FOR­EIGN STAFF

PALES­TINIAN AUTHOR­ITY Chair­man Mah­moud Ab­bas met Ha­mas leader Khaled Mashaal in Da­m­as­cus on Sun­day for in­con­clu­sive talks on form­ing a unity gov­ern­ment.

This was the first meet­ing be­tween the two men in nearly two years. Af­ter the 90-minute private talks, which took place af­ter re­peated post­pone­ments, Mr Ab­bas de­scribed the meet­ing as “fruit­ful. We agreed that the top pri­or­ity is that there should be no spilling of Pales­tinian blood.

“We will con­tinue our meet­ings and di­a­logue in the near fu­ture to reach an agree­ment that ends the siege on the Pales­tinian peo­ple.”

Mr Me­shal — who has lived in Syria since a 1997 Is­raeli at­tempt on his life — added that there were “points of dis­agree­ment be­tween us, but we will sort it out through di­a­logue.”

The main area of dis­pute re­mains con­trol of the In­te­rior Min­istry, which for­mally over­sees the Pales­tinian se­cu­rity ser­vices.

Ha­mas has so far been un­will­ing to re­lin­quish this port­fo­lio, al­though ne­go­ti­a­tions over other key min­is­te­rial posts have met with more suc­cess. The Is­lamist party has also re­sisted pres­sure from Mr Ab­bas to agree to recog­nise Is­rael.

De­spite the ap­par­ent lack of progress made in the Da­m­as­cus sum­mit, talks be­tween the ri­val fac­tions con­tin­ued dur­ing the week in Gaza.

How­ever, the fresh ne­go­ti­a­tions were marred by re­newed clashes in the Gaza Strip on Wed­nes­day be­tween Ha­mas and Fatah gun­men in which at least four peo­ple were in­jured.

More than 60 Pales­tini­ans have been killed and scores more wounded in re­peated con­fronta­tions be­tween sup­port­ers of the two fac­tions in the last year.

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