Palestinians take part in a protest calling on Hamas and Fatah factions to conclude the reconciliation, in Gaza city December 3, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)
Representatives of various Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip headed to Cairo on Tuesday for talks with Egyptian intelligence officials on the possibility of reaching a truce agreement with Israel, and ending the Hamas-Fatah power struggle.
The visit coincides with unconfirmed reports in the Arab media that the Palestinian factions and Israel are close to reaching a long-term cease-fire agreement under the auspices of Egypt and the United Nations.
The faction representatives were invited by the Egyptian authorities in the context of Cairo’s continued effort to avoid a military confrontation between Hamas and Israel, and persuade Hamas and Fatah to agree to the formation of a unity government.
Sources in the Gaza Strip said the representatives who headed to Cairo through the Rafah border crossing belong to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees of Palestine, al-Ahrar, al-Mujahideen, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Last week, a Fatah delegation headed by Azzam al-Ahmad held talks in Cairo with Egyptian mediators
about the proposed truce with Israel, as well as the ongoing dispute with Hamas. It was not clear whether the Fatah officials would participate in the new discussions.
According to the sources, the faction representatives will join a senior Hamas delegation that is already in Cairo.
Hamas leaders have informed the Egyptians that any cease-fire agreement with Israel should be taken by all Palestinian factions, and not only Hamas, the sources added. The same thing applies to efforts to end the Hamas-Fatah rift, the sources said, adding that Hamas does not want to be seen as striking any deal with Israel or Fatah on its own.
Senior Hamas official Izzat al-Risheq was quoted on Tuesday as saying the discussions in Cairo were mainly focused on attempts to reach a cease-fire agreement with Israel. The Palestinian factions were also holding consultations with each other and with Egyptian intelligence officials on ways to achieve “national reconciliation” between Hamas and Fatah, he said.
Husam Badran, another senior Hamas official, said his movement was prepared to end its dispute with Fatah on the basis of the 2011 reconciliation agreement signed between the two parties. He was referring to the Hamas-Fatah agreement that was signed in Cairo on May 3, 2011, in which both parties agreed to form a national consensus government. The agreement also called for holding long overdue presidential and parliamentary elections within a year.
However, Hamas and Fatah have failed to implement the agreement and a similar one that was signed in Cairo in October 2017.
The two rival parties continue to hold each other responsible for the failure of the agreements. Fatah says Hamas’s refusal to cede control over the Gaza Strip to the Ramallah-based PA government remains a major obstacle hindering the implementation of the agreements. Hamas, for its part, has accused the PA government of failing to lift economic sanctions it had imposed on the Gaza Strip last year.
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