PA President Abbas meets Hamas chief Mashaal in Qatar 390 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Thaer Ghanaim/PPO/Handout)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal
are scheduled to hold another meeting in Cairo on February 23 to discuss the
formation of a Palestinian unity government, Azzam al-Ahmed, a top Fatah
official, said on Wednesday.
Ahmed said he was unaware of plans for Abbas
to visit the Gaza Strip later this month.
Sabri Saidam, member of the
Fatah Revolutionary Council, ruled out the possibility that Abbas would travel
to the Strip soon. He said that the issue of Abbas’s visit to the Strip was not
discussed during meetings of the PA leadership in Ramallah.
confirmed that the two parties were close to reaching agreement on the make-up
of the unity government, which would be headed by Abbas and dominated by
technocrats. According to Ahmed, the serious negotiations for the formation of
the government will begin on February 23.
The London-based Al-Hayat
newspaper claimed on Wednesday that Abbas would visit the Strip later this month
together with Mashaal, within the framework of a “broader” reconciliation
agreement than the one signed in Qatar two weeks ago.
The paper quoted
Palestinian sources as saying that the new agreement will “pave the way for the
resumption of negotiations with Israel.” The sources said that Israel has agreed
to release 40 Palestinians who had been arrested before the signing of the Oslo
Accords in 1993 and an additional 1,000 prisoners as part of a series of
concessions to encourage the PA to return to the negotiating table.
Fatah official denied reports that Abbas would also meet with Hamas Prime
Minister Ismail Haniyeh during his visit to Cairo.
Haniyeh, who visited
Iran last week, is opposed to the Qatar-brokered reconciliation
Haniyeh and Mashaal met in Doha late Tuesday for the second time
this week in a bid to solve the dispute within Hamas over the reconciliation
deal. Haniyeh said after the meeting that he agreed with Mashaal on “mechanisms”
for the implementation of the Doha deal, but did not elaborate.
Sha’ath, another senior Fatah official, said that a high-level delegation from
his faction was planning to visit the Strip soon to discuss the implementation
of the reconciliation deal.
Sha’ath said that the Fatah- Hamas talks
would focus on preparations for holding presidential and parliamentary