Hamas, Fatah start reconciliation talks

Egyptian mediator Omar Suleiman urges all factions to forget the past and look forward to build future.

Hamas Fatah 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Hamas Fatah 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Rival Palestinian groups including Hamas and Fatah are holding reconciliation talks aimed at coming up with a power-sharing agreement and eventually holding elections. In televised comments Tuesday as the talks opened, Egypt's intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who mediates the discussions, urged all the factions to forget the past and look forward to build the future. "The Palestinian people are watching the results of these talks, so please do not let them down," Suleiman said. "We are only looking toward the future and your meeting today is the beginning of that path." Egypt is expected to mediate 10 days of talks between the factions. The 16-member Fatah delegation is headed by former PA prime minister Ahmed Qurei, while the Hamas team is led by Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy chairman of the Hamas political bureau in Syria. Hamas and Fatah have established five joint committees to resolve differences over the makeup of the new government, the reconstruction of the Palestinian security forces, reforms in the PLO and dialogue between the various Palestinian factions. The new government's first task would be to raise the financial aid needed to rebuild the Gaza Strip. It is not clear at this stage who would head such a government. Hamas reiterated on Monday its fierce opposition to the appointment of outgoing PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad. Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas legislator and spokesman in the Gaza Strip, said Fayad, who submitted his resignation over the weekend, was "unacceptable" to the Palestinians because of his government's alleged participation in the blockade on the Gaza Strip, the firing of hundreds of non-Fatah civil servants, and the arrest of scores of Hamas supporters in the West Bank. "Fayad is America's man in the region, and that's why the Palestinians don't want him," Masri said. "Fayad is not even accepted by Fatah, where he faces opposition by many of its leaders and members." Masri added that Hamas had the right to name its own prime minister because the movement won the January 2006 parliamentary election. He did not reveal the identity of Hamas's preferred candidate, but said any candidate should be at least a supporter of Hamas.