Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal met in Cairo late Wednesday in yet another attempt to end the dispute between the two parties.
Abbas and Mashaal arrived in Cairo at the invitation of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who recently decided to resume efforts to achieve reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.
Senior officials from Fatah and Hamas participated in the meeting between Abbas and Mashaal.
The discussions focused on ways of implementing the Qatari-sponsored reconciliation accord that was reached last year between Abbas and Mashaal.
The accord calls, among other things, for the establishment of a Palestinian unity government headed by Abbas to prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Previous attempts to implement the accord failed, with both parties trading holding each other responsible for the failure. While Fatah accused Hamas of disrupting the work of the Palestinian Elections Commission in the Gaza Strip, Hamas condemned the PA security forces for continuing to arrest and harass its supporters in the West Bank.
Moreover, many Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip criticized the reconciliation agreement and said that Mashaal did not consult with them before signing the deal. The Hamas officials were particularly opposed to the appointment of Abbas as prime minister of a new unity government.
Earlier, Abbas held talks with Morsi about the renewed effort to end the Fatah-Hamas dispute. The two also discussed the situation in the Palestinian territories in the aftermath of the UN General Assembly's vote in favor of upgrading the Palestinians' status to non-member observer state.
Abbas also met in Cairo with Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shallah in the context of efforts to achieve "national reconciliation."
But while Abbas and Mashaal were meeting in Cairo, Hamas accused the PA security forces of arresting five of its supporters in the West Bank.
In Hebron, PA security officers arrested Tareq Dais, who had previously served time in Israeli prison.
The PA also arrested Hammad al-Amleh, a senior Hamas figure in the city, after raiding his home in the village of Beit Ula near Hebron. He too had spent many years in Israeli prison.
Also in Hebron, PA security forces arrested Saeed al-Allami on suspicion of membership in Islamic Jihad.
In Ramallah, Tareq Numan was arrested by the PA's Preventive Security Forces, while in Nablus they arrested Abdel Rahman Hindiyeh. Both Numan and Hindiyeh were recently released from Israeli prison.