Arab MKs to attend Hamas-Fatah unity agreement signing

Abbas and Fatah arrive in Cairo for formal signing as Palestinian groups reach agreement in principle; Egyptian intelligence chief meets with top Palestinian Islamist.

Tibi yelling in Knesset 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)
Tibi yelling in Knesset 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file[)
Three Arab MKs travled to Cairo on Wednesday to be present when Fatah and Hamas sign a unity agreement.
MKs Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta'al), Taleb a-Sanaa (UAL-Ta'al) and Muhammad Barakei (Hadash) were invited by the Egyptian government to participate in the signing ceremony.
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The three said in a statement on Wednesday that the invitation came in honor of their efforts to mediate between the two Palestinian factions. It is unclear whether the Knesset members will actively participate in the signing ceremony, or will observe.
MK Ya'acov Katz (National Union) responded  to the news, saying that "the Knesset speaker must intervene."
"On the eve of Independence Day," Katz said, "when Israel celebrates 63 years of independence, breaches are found in the Knesset, which is supposed to serve as an example for the Kingdom of Israel and condemn the traitors, the murderers and collaborators."
Fatah and Hamas will sign a reconciliation agreement in Cairo on Wednesday, ending a four-year feud between the two main Palestinian movements that remain ideologically and geographically divided.
Izzat al-Rishq, a Hamas spokesman, said all Palestinian factions and independent Palestinian politicians met in Cairo on Tuesday to discuss the agreement, brokered by Egypt and initialed last week.
“[After] all the factions [have] signed today and tomorrow, we will celebrate the reconciliation under Egyptian patronage,” he told Reuters, adding that both Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal would be in attendance.
Abbas – the head of Fatah, the largest faction in the PLO and the PA – was expected to speak at the ceremony.
Mashaal, based in Damascus, arrived in the Egyptian capital Sunday. On Monday he met with the head of Egyptian intelligence Mourad Mowafi, the Al-Ahram website reported. The meeting would have been unthinkable before February’s ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, an ardent opponent of Hamas’s parent organization the Muslim Brotherhood.
A day before the reconciliation gathering in the Egyptian capital, smaller Palestinian factions signed a reconciliation deal on Tuesday to show their backing for the rapprochement.
“Fatah and Hamas will sign with full names tomorrow in a signing ceremony celebrated by all,” one Palestinian official said.
Diplomats said foreign and Arab dignitaries, including EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, were also invited to the ceremony.
However, a press officer at the EU mission in Cairo said Ashton was in New York, and therefore unable to attend.
The interim PA government – which officials said would consist of independent technocrats, with no affiliation to either main faction – is, under the reconciliation deal, to prepare for parliamentary and presidential elections within a year.
Egypt’s state-run MENA news agency said that Hamas and Fatah will release prisoners held by each side, and start talks on setting up the new government after the ceremony.
Egypt has said it will help oversee the implementation of the accord.
The accord calls for creating an interim unity government for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, instead of the separate administrations led by Fatah and Hamas.
Reuters contributed to this report.