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(photo credit: AP [file])
Egypt has decided to temporarily suspend its efforts to mediate between Hamas and Fatah after the two rival parties rejected Cairo's latest proposals for ending the conflict.
A high-ranking Egyptian security delegation headed by Muhammad Ibrahim, a top General Intelligence official, visited Ramallah over the past few days in what was described as a final bid to resolve the Hamas-Fatah feud.
The delegation headed back to Cairo after failing to bridge the gap between the two sides, Fatah and Hamas officials told The Jerusalem Post.
Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah official closely associated with Abbas, said that the Egyptian team did not bring new proposals for solving the conflict.
"They came with a few cosmetic changes to their original ideas," he said. "At one point we were very close to reaching agreement with Hamas, but something went wrong." He said that Fatah would never accept any deal that calls for the existence of two separate entities and governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
He said differences over the status of the Palestinian security forces and the possibility of forming a joint Hamas-Fatah police apparatus in the Gaza Strip were among the main reasons for the mediation efforts' failure.
The two parties have also failed to resolve their differences on most of the outstanding issues, such as the political agenda of a unity government and holding new presidential and parliamentary elections, Ahmed said.
In Gaza City, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that the talks with Fatah failed because Abbas and his team were "serving the interests of foreign parties." The Hamas spokesman accused Abbas of turning the PA into a tool in the hands of the Americans and Israelis. He claimed that US security coordinator Keith Dayton and IDF officers were continuing to issue orders to Abbas's security forces to arrest Hamas supporters in the West Bank.
Abu Zuhri said that the crackdown on Hamas supporters in the West Bank by Abbas loyalists was one of the major reasons behind the collapse of the unity talks with Fatah. He revealed that the Egyptians had proposed the establishment of a special committee that would coordinate between the Hamas and PA governments.
The Fatah and Hamas representatives said that despite the failure, the Egyptians were apparently planning to invite the two parties to another round of talks in Cairo the coming weeks.