Fatah and Hamas said on Wednesday that they were close to reaching agreement on the formation of a “national consensus” government that would be headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Nabil Sha’ath, a member of the Fatah central committee, said that “real progress” has been achieved in the past few days to end the power struggle with Hamas.

A Fatah delegation headed by Azzam al-Ahmed has been holding intensive negotiations with Hamas leaders in Cairo under the auspices of the Egyptian General Intelligence Service.

Sha’ath said the two sides were very close to reaching agreement on the formation of a government that would pave the way for holding presidential and parliamentary elections in the Palestinian territories.

He said that a meeting between Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, which was supposed to take place in Cairo next week, has been postponed until after the second round of the Egyptian presidential election this weekend.

Earlier this year, Hamas and Fatah signed an agreement in Doha, Qatar, calling for the establishment of a national consensus government that would be headed by Abbas. The new government, according to the accord, would consist of independent figures and its main task would be to prepare for elections.

Last month, Abbas asked Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to form a new government in the West Bank.

It is not clear at this stage if Fayyad would be part of the government, which, according to Palestinian sources, would consist of 19 cabinet members.

Fatah legislator Ashraf Juma’ah said the new government would be sworn in before Abbas in Ramallah. He did not specify when the ceremony would take place.

He too confirmed that Fatah and Hamas negotiators have made significant progress in the Cairo talks.

Juma’ah told the Ma’an News Agency that the Egyptians were playing a major role in bridging the gap between the two rival parties.

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