Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday began a three-day
visit to Cairo where he is scheduled to hold talks with Hamas leader Khaled
Mashaal and representatives of several Palestinian groups on the formation of a
Palestinian unity government and the implementation of the Qatarbrokered
reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas.
Abbas is also expected to
meet with Egypt’s de facto head of state, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein
On the eve of the Abbas-Mashaal meeting, Hamas announced that
its leaders have agreed to end their differences over the Qatari-brokered
Hamas’s political bureau announced, following a
meeting in the Egyptian capital, its support for the reconciliation accord, Ezat
Risheq, a senior Hamas official, said.
A dispute had erupted within Hamas
over the Qatari-sponsored deal that Abbas and Mashaal signed in Doha on February
Some Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip, including Ismail Haniyeh and
Mahmoud Zahar, criticized the deal, mainly because it calls for appointing Abbas
as prime minister of a unity government.
Haniyeh and Mashaal also
complained that Mashaal did not consult with them and other Hamas leaders in the
Gaza Strip before signing the deal with the PA president.
The deal also
divided Hamas’s armed armed wing, Izzadin Kassam.
One of the Izzadin
Kassam’s leaders, Muhammad Deif, has voiced opposition to the deal, while
another prominent figure, Ahmed Ja’bari, has come out in favor of Mashaal’s
rapprochement with Abbas.
Voicing support for the reconciliation, the
Hamas leaders who met in Cairo emphasized the need to implement the deal
“accurately and faithfully on the basis of preserving the legitimate rights of
the Palestinians and the resistance in driving the occupation away from
Palestine,” a Hamas official who attended the gathering said.
spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that the outcome of the Cairo meeting showed that
Hamas remained united despite the differences of opinion over the reconciliation
pact with Fatah.
Hamas’s decision to back the agreement with Fatah is
seen as a victory for Mashaal, who has come under sharp criticism from several
leaders of the Islamist movement for making “far-reaching concessions” to Abbas.