Hamas and Fatah representatives were scheduled to begin talks in Doha, Qatar, on Sunday in yet another bid to end their dispute and implement previous reconciliation agreements signed between the two sides.
On the eve of the talks, both Hamas and Fatah expressed cautious optimism regarding the prospects of reaching a deal that would end their rift.
The Fatah team is led by Azzam al-Ahmed and Sakher Bsaisso, while Hamas dispatched a delegation to the talks headed by Musa Abu Marzouk.
Some reports suggested that Hamas leader Khaled Marshal may participate in the discussions.
The two parties are expected to discuss ways of implementing previous reconciliation agreements, holding presidential and legislative elections and paying salaries to some 40,000 civil servants employed by the former Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.
In addition, the two parties are scheduled to discuss the possibility of forming a new Palestinian unity government.
Hamas spokesman Hussar Badran said that the two sides were not expected to discuss any new agreement between them. Hamas went to the talks after receiving assurances that there would be no Fatah preconditions for the negotiations, he said.
Another Hamas official, Salah Bardaweel, said that some Fatah leaders were seeking to “sabotage” the talks even before they began. He insisted that the only way to ensure their success was by implementing previous agreements and understandings reached between the two sides under the auspices of Egypt and Qatar.