Palestinian unity talks continue
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.