Fatah and Hamas gather in Cairo to sign unity agreement

Historic document calls for elections in one year, cooperation with PLO, and non-political security committee; three Arab MKs attend signing ceremony.

mashaal moussa 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
mashaal moussa 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Fatah and Hamas gathered in Cairo to sign a reconciliation agreement on Wednesday, ending a four-year feud between the two main Palestinian movements that remain ideologically and geographically divided.
Ramallah-based website Palestine Monitor claimed to have a text of the Palestinian National Reconciliation Agreement, which called for elections in one year, cooperation with the PLO, and the formation of a Higher Security Committee made up of agreed-upon professional officers.
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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.
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.
MKs Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta'al), Taleb a-Sanaa (UAL-Ta'al) and Muhammad Barakei (Hadash) were participated in the signing ceremony, after being invited by the Egyptian government.
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.
"This is a reconciliation agreement that reunites the Palestinian people," Tibi explained to Army Radio. "I need to be here and I'm proud to be here. Anything else would be abnormal."
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.