Fatah and Hamas Meet in Egypt, Discuss Unity Deal
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met in Cairo yesterday with Hamas political chief Kahled Meshal for the latest round of reconciliation talks and the first face-to-face meeting between the two parties in over a year. Both Hamas and Fatah were invited to Cairo by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi who wanted to restart talks between the often-feuding Palestinian organizations and to promote a return to the reconciliation agreement signed back in 2011. Following the talks, both sides agreed to implement the 2011 agreement, which will facilitate the transition to a unity government. It was reported that both sides will meet in early February to set a time-line for implementation.
Reuters elaborated on the differences between the organizations saying, “Much of the tension between the groups stems from their competing approaches to talks to try to end Israeli occupation. While Hamas fundamentally rejects Israel’s right to exist, but says it might consider a long-term ceasefire, Abbas rejects violence and is prepared to talk peace on certain conditions.” Furthermore, there are disagreements about the implementation of the 2011 unity agreement. Hamas political adviser Yousef Rizq said, “Abbas’s insistence on holding elections first affects the atmosphere of the meeting,” stressing that all the provisions in the agreement should go into effect simultaneously.
In reaction to the meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday ”Abu Mazen (Abbas) gave an embrace to the head of a terror organisation who only a month ago stated that Israel should be wiped from the map,” and went on to say “That is not the behavior of somebody seeking peace.” On the other hand Hamas has accused President Abbas of “dragging his feet on reconciliation,” and saying that he wants to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations after Israel holds their parliamentary elections on January 22.
In addition to Israels frustration with the Palestinian negotiations, Egyptian officials have stated that a reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah is opposed by Washington.