Hamas committed to Cairo for reconciliation talks
Fatah has suggested that a politically unstable Cairo may not be a good
venue for reconciliation talks with Hamas, but the latter announced its
commitment to Cairo
Noha Al-Badry, Thursday 20 Dec 2012
The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, confirmed its commitment to
conducting talks on the implementation of the Palestinian national
reconciliation agreement in Cairo, rejecting Fatah's suggestion that talks
should be held in another capital. A Hamas leader Salah Al-Bardawil said
today that the idea of relocating is a "diversion of efforts" and not
something Hamas will consider; he added that current political turmoil in
Egypt will soon come to an end.
For his part Azzam Al-Ahmad, the head of the central committee of Fatah and
the leader of the delegation, had recently suggested that if the situation
in Egypt remained tense, meetings between his party and Hamas might be held
in another capital, especially since Egypt is not directly involved in the
talks. Al-Bardawil inistsed that Egypt is the agreement's only patron and
saw Al-Ahmad's statements as an attempt to test the air. "President Mahmoud
Abbas," he said, "is waiting for an American initiative to mobilise
negotiations again before heading to the reconciliation."
The decision from both sides to take serious steps towards the
reconciliation, which had previously stalled for a year, belies the two
factions' long standing rivalry, which boiled over in 2007 after Hamas beat
Fatah in legislative elections. Armed members of the two groups battled in
Gaza, with Hamas eventually routing Fatah and taking control of the coastal
territory while the Palestinian Authority continued to rule the West Bank.
Years of mutual suspicion and recrimination followed, with each faction
arresting members of the other.
The two sides signed a reconciliation deal last year in Cairo, pledging to
set up an interim consensus government of independents that would pave the
way to legislative and presidential elections within 12 months. But
implementation of the deal stalled over the make-up of the interim
government, and a February deal signed by Abbas and Hamas's Khaled Meshaal
in Doha and intended to overcome outstanding differences was opposed by
Hamas members in Gaza. After the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in
November, the Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by Fatah, allowed
Hamas to host a rally in the West Bank, marking the first such gathering
since 2007 and suggesting a possible resolution.