Hamas, Fatah make effort to achieve ‘national unity'

After meeting in Damascus joint statement says two sides have reached an understanding on "the majority of points of difference."

hamas fatah talks 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
hamas fatah talks 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Hamas and Fatah representatives expressed optimism over the weekend regarding the prospects of ending their power struggle and said they were now close to achieving “national unity.”
The declarations followed a meeting in Damascus between Hamas and Fatah officials – the first of its kind in several months.
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A high-level Hamas delegation is expected to visit Cairo soon for talks with Egyptian government officials on ways of ending the dispute with Fatah, sources close to Hamas said.
They said the decision to dispatch the delegation to the Egyptian capital was taken following a secret meeting between Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and Egyptian General Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman in Saudi Arabia.
The rapprochement between Hamas and Egypt was further boosted last week by the release of two Hamas operatives from Egyptian prison. One of them, Muhammad Dababesh, is a senior Hamas security official who was recently arrested at Cairo International Airport. The second man is Muhammad Naim, son of Hamas’s minister of health, who was arrested by the Egyptians last month.
Referring to the meeting in Damascus, Salah Bardaweel, a Hamas official and spokesman, said: “The talks were conducted in a cordial atmosphere.
We reached understandings and hope to hold another meeting next week.”
He did not give details about the “understandings,” but said that they would pave the way for agreement on an Egyptian initiative to solve the crisis between the rival Palestinian groups.
Bardaweel said the Hamas-Fatah talks were aimed at stopping the Palestinian Authority from making concessions during the direct negotiations with Israel, which were launched earlier this month, and “backing the resistance.”
He said he ruled out the possibility that Fatah would exploit the reconciliation talks with Hamas to “cover up for the direct negotiations with the [Israeli] enemy.”
Bardaweel urged the PA to “draw conclusions” from previous peace talks with Israel.
“The experience of the past has shown that the enemy wants to use the negotiations only to dwarf the Palestinian cause and win time to establish facts on the ground,” he said. “Fatah is required to read very well the actions and statements of the Zionist enemy and urge the Palestinian Authority to stop the socalled negotiations.”
A joint statement issued by Hamas and Fatah after the meeting said the two parties “agreed on the path and steps toward reconciliation.”
It said they also discussed their differences over the Egyptian reconciliation plan.
The Fatah delegation was headed by Azzam al-Ahmed, a legislator closely associated with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, while the Hamas team was led by Mashaal. The statement said the two sides expressed a sincere desire to end the split.