Abbas, Morsi to advance Palestinian reconciliation

Palestinian Authority president, Egyptian president also discuss resuming peace talks with Israel in meeting in Cairo.

Abbas and Morsi 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
Abbas and Morsi 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday held talks in Cairo with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on efforts to achieve unity between Fatah and Hamas and resume peace talks with Israel.
The meeting came 48 hours after Hamas and Fatah representatives who met in Cairo announced that they had reached an agreement to achieve “reconciliation” between the two parties within three months.
The talks are being held under the auspices of the Egyptian authorities, which have been exerting heavy pressure on Hamas and Fatah to end their differences.
Abbas also met in Cairo on Thursday with Ramadan Shallah, the leader of the Islamic Jihad organization.
A PA official in Ramallah said that Abbas and Morsi also discussed Washington’s renewed efforts to revive peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel.
The official said that US Secretary of State John Kerry has been putting pressure on the PA leadership to agree to the resumption of peace talks unconditionally.
The PA continues to insist on a full cessation of settlement construction and the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons as a precondition for returning to the negotiating table, the official said.
Meanwhile, Abdel Aziz Dweik, a senior Hamas representative in the West Bank, voiced pessimism regarding the prospects of implementing the latest Hamas-Fatah agreement.
He said the only reason Fatah was interested in the agreement was to remove Hamas from power.
Dweik said that there would be no real reconciliation unless the PA halted its crackdown on Hamas supporters in the West Bank.
A public opinion poll published in the West Bank on Thursday showed that a majority of 82 percent of Palestinians supports the formation of a Hamas-Fatah unity government.
Seventy-one percent of Palestinians said that the resignation of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad last month would not have any impact on efforts to achieve reconciliation between the two rival parties, according to the poll, which was conducted by the research and development center Awrad.
The poll covered only 238 Palestinian political activists and academics.