Fatah officials arrived in Cairo on Sunday for talks with Egyptian security officials on ways of ending the ongoing dispute with Hamas.United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov was also in Cairo in the context of his efforts to prevent an all-out war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Mladenov has had meetings in the past few days with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in the Gaza Strip. The UN envoy has also been working toward convincing Fatah and Hamas to end their rivalry and implementing the reconciliation agreement they signed in the Egyptian capital on October 12, 2017.It was not immediately clear whether Mladenov would also hold talks with the Fatah delegation that arrived in Cairo. The delegation consists of top Fatah officials Azzam al-Ahmed, Rouhi Fattouh and Hussein al-Sheikh, in addition to Palestinian Authority General Intelligence chief Majed Faraj.PA President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday that the Fatah delegation would relay to the Egyptians the faction’s position regarding the issue of reconciliation with Hamas.Recently, Egypt presented Hamas and Fatah with a new proposal for ending the dispute between the two rival parties. Hamas leaders said they have accepted the proposal, while Fatah has yet to announce its position.Some Fatah officials are said to have expressed reservations about the Egyptian proposal under the pretext that it fully endorses Hamas’s position.According to unconfirmed reports, the proposal is based on previous reconciliation accords signed between the two rival factions and calls for lifting economic sanctions imposed by the Ramallah- based PA government on the Gaza Strip last year. The proposal, according to the reports, calls on Hamas to allow the PA government to issue its civic responsibilities in the Gaza Strip, but does not address the contentious issue of Hamas’s weapons and security forces.The PA insists that Hamas hand over full control over the Gaza Strip to the PA government, including security responsibilities. Hamas, for its part, has repeatedly rejected demands to disarm or allow the PA to deploy its security forces in the coastal enclave.The London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported on Sunday that Mladenov’s efforts were aimed at securing a long-term ceasefire between Hamas and Israel and ending the Hamas-Fatah power struggle.Palestinian sources told the paper that this was the last chance to end tensions along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. If Mladenov’s mission fails, it would accelerate a major confrontation between Hamas and Israel even though the two parties are not interested in having one, the sources said.The sources claimed that the UN envoy, who visited the Gaza Strip twice in the past week, carried various ideas to achieve a ceasefire. These ideas include ending the incendiary kite and balloon attacks on Israel. In return, Israel would stop its military strikes, fully reopen the Kerem Shalom commercial border crossing with the Gaza Strip and expand the fishing zone for Gazan fishermen.The report said that Mladenov also proposed that Hamas provide details about the missing IDF soldiers, who are presumed to be dead and whose bodies are still in the Gaza Strip. Another idea, according to the report, is to carry out several economic and humanitarian projects in the Gaza Strip.Hamas has informed Mladenov that it refuses to provide any details about the IDF soldiers unless Israel agrees to release all Palestinians who were rearrested after being released as part of the 2011 Gilad Schalit prisoner-exchange agreement. Israel, the report claimed, has agreed to release only those prisoners who were not involved in new terror attacks after their release.“There are real fears that the current diplomatic efforts to avoid an all-out military confrontation could fail,” the unnamed Palestinian sources told the paper. “There is still no real progress, and this has created a pessimistic climate.”
Palestinian rivals Fatah, Hamas sign reconciliation accord, October 12 2017.