mahmoud abbas pensive 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Hours after releasing dozens of Hamas detainees, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met in his Ramallah office with a senior representative of the Islamist movement.
The meeting came amid reports that Fatah and Hamas negotiators who met in Cairo over the past three days again failed to reach agreement on ending their differences.
The meeting between Abbas and Abdel Aziz Dweik, the Hamas speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was held in a "very friendly" atmosphere, said Hassan Khraisheh, deputy speaker of the council, who attended the talks.
Dweik was released last week from Israeli prison after completing his three-year sentence. Since then, Fatah loyalists have prevented him from entering his office in the PLC building in Ramallah.
Abbas congratulated Dweik on the occasion of his release from prison and said the issue of the Palestinian prisoners would remain at the top of his agenda, a spokesman for Abbas said after the meeting.
The spokesman also quoted the PA president as saying peace would never prevail in the region unless Israel freed all the Palestinian prisoners.
The meeting, as well as the release of the Hamas men, is seen in the context of Abbas's goodwill gestures toward Hamas designed to boost the prospects "national reconciliation." On the instructions of Abbas, the PA's security forces released over the past two days more than 100 Hamas detainees who were being held without trial in its prisons in the West Bank.
A PA official said the released detainees had not been involved in terrorist activities and did not constitute a threat to public security. He said that more detainees were expected to be released in the coming days and weeks.
Fatah representatives said that despite Abbas's goodwill gestures, Hamas's security forces had arrested hundreds of their supporters in the Gaza Strip over the past three days.
They said that more than 480 Fatah members and supporters were either arrested or summoned for interrogation. They included senior Fatah officials Abu Ali Masoud and Ahmed Nasser, members of the faction's leadership committee in the Strip.
Ibrahim Abu al-Naja, a top Fatah official, accused Hamas of carrying out "political abductions" in Gaza.
"We don't know why Hamas is carrying out these massive arrests," he said. "These unjustified arrests have a negative impact on the dialogue between Fatah and Hamas in the Egyptian capital."
Fatah spokesman Fahmi Za'areer said Hamas was seeking to sabotage the Cairo talks by launching an unprecedented wave of arrests against Fatah supporters. He added that Hamas was continuing to pursue dozens of Fatah supporters who have not been arrested yet.
Meanwhile, the sixth round of reconciliation talks ended in Cairo on Tuesday without agreement between Hamas and Fatah, sources close to the two parties said.
Fatah negotiator Nabil Shaath said the two sides agreed to meet again on July 25 to pursue their efforts to forge a new Palestinian unity government.