Fatah, Hamas hammer out reconciliation deal

Parties reach agreement on interim government, set a date for elections; Hamas says all points of contention have been solved, Fatah and Hamas leaders will soon be invited together to Cairo for additional talks.

PA President Abbas with Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Abd Alhalim Abu Aska)
PA President Abbas with Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Abd Alhalim Abu Aska)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement and its rival Hamas said on Wednesday they had resolved their deep divisions, opening the way for a unity government and national elections. The deal, which took many officials by surprise, was thrashed out in Egypt and followed a series of secret meetings. The two groups hammered out an agreement, setting the stage for forming an interim government as well as fixing a date for a general election. The accord was first reported by Egypt's intelligence service, which brokered the talks.
In a statement carried by the Egyptian state news agency MENA, the intelligence service said the deal was hatched by a Hamas delegation led by Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of the group's politburo, and Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad.
"The consultations resulted in full understandings on all points of discussions, including setting up an interim agreement with specific tasks and to set a date for election," the statement said.
It said the agreement would allow Egypt to invite all Palestinian factions to sign a national reconciliation agreement in Cairo in the next few days.
Spokespeople for both Hamas and Fatah confirmed that "all differences" have been worked out between the long-feuding Palestinians political movements.
A spokesperson for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that Hamas has agreed to hold elections within a year, a part of the reconciliation deal it signed in Cairo.
"The two sides signed initial letters on an agreement. All points of differences have been overcome," Taher Al-Nono, the Hamas government spokesman in Gaza, said.
A Hamas spokesperson said that "all points of differences" between the rival groups have been overcome. He added that officials in Cairo will soon invite top Hamas and Fatah officials for a signing ceremony in the Egyptian capital.
The breakthrough came as a result of talks reported on Tuesday, when a Hamas delegation traveled to Cairo for discussions on a potential Fatah-Hamas reconciliation.
The delegation, headed by Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Elaraby and members of the ruling military council.
At the same time that the Hamas delegation was meeting with officials in Cairo, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sat down with an Egyptian diplomat in Ramallah.
In the meeting with Egyptian Ambassador to the PA Yasser Othman, Abbas said, "Egypt is the backbone of our people's aspirations toward having an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital," official Palestinian Authority news agency WAFA reported.
Abbas's meeting in Ramallah had the same agenda as Hamas's in Cairo: reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas rulers in the Gaza Strip.