Hamas, Fatah discuss joint Gaza force

Proposal would see Fatah forces returning to the Strip for first time since violent ouster in 2007.

hamas fatah talks 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
hamas fatah talks 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah were discussing a proposal on the formation of a joint security force in the Gaza Strip during reconciliation talks in Cairo on Monday. Fatah official Nabil Shaath was quoted by the Egyptian news service MENA as saying that an agreement on the joint force had been reached "in principle," but that many details were yet to be worked out. Shaath reportedly added that once the accord was finalized, Egyptian and Arab forces would be deployed to oversee the implementation of the deal. If finalized, the agreement between Fatah and Hamas would represent a breakthrough in reconciliation talks between the factions that have been ongoing for months. Hamas and Fatah have been bitterly divided since the violent ouster of Fatah loyalists by Hamas from the Gaza Strip in June 2007. Meanwhile, the Egyptians have informed the Palestinians of their intention to reopen the Rafah border crossing permanently after Hamas and Fatah reach an agreement on forming a unity government, a Fatah official, Azzam al-Ahmed, said. "Egyptian General Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman informed us during a meeting with Hamas and Fatah representatives in Cairo last night that Egypt would begin real measures on the ground after the signing of the agreement to reopen the Rafah border crossing," Ahmed told reporters. "He also stressed that Egypt would be in charge of renovating the border crossing." The Rafah terminal has been closed since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip. The Fatah official quoted Suleiman as saying that Egypt has informed Israel and the US of its intention to reopen the terminal. Fatah and Hamas delegates said that after the current round of talks in Cairo, they would meet again in the first week of July to pursue their efforts to form a unity government.