Abbas, Mashaal scheduled to meet again in Cairo

Meeting comes after several days of talks between the rival Palestinian parties on implementation of unity deal.

Mashaal with Abbas 311 R (photo credit: Reuters)
Mashaal with Abbas 311 R
(photo credit: Reuters)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal are scheduled to hold another meeting in Cairo on Wednesday, Azzam Ahmed, a senior Fatah official, announced Monday.
The meeting comes following talks between Fatah and Hamas representatives in the Egyptian capital in the past few days about ways of implementing an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation accord that was announced in Cairo last May.
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Abbas and Mashaal met in Cairo last month and agreed to work toward implementing the agreement, which envisages the establishment of a Palestinian unity government holding new presidential and parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Abbas said recently that the elections would be held in May 2012. However, sources close to the two parties expressed skepticism that the vote would be held on time.
Wednesday’s meeting would be the third of its kind between Abbas and Mashaal since the beginning of the year. Despite the talk about progress toward implementing the reconciliation deal, Hamas and Fatah officials said that the gap between the two sides remains wide, especially over the formation of a new government.
Hamas and Fatah officials who met in Cairo recently failed to reach agreement on the issue of elections and the make-up of the proposed unity government, a Fatah official said.
Hamas, for its part, said that the ongoing crackdown on its supporters in the West Bank by PA security forces was threatening to torpedo the reconciliation agreement.
The two sides also failed to reach an agreement on the release of Hamas and Fatah detainees from their respective prisons, the Fatah official said. He added that another obstacle was Hamas’s refusal to allow hundreds of Fatah members who fled the Gaza Strip in 2007 to return to their homes.