Thursday, February 26, 2009
09:38 Mecca time, 06:38 GMT
News Middle East
Hamas and Fatah meet in Egypt
Fatah and Hamas hope to heal a rift that widened since Hamas seized control of
Gaza in 2007 [AFP] Rival
Palestinian Fatah and Hamas groups have held unofficial meetings in
Cairo, Egypt's capital, ahead of a reconciliation conference scheduled
for Thursday this week.
Wednesday's meetings, the latest in a series held in the past few
weeks, will help pave the way for national dialogue, Nabil Amr, the
Palestinian ambassador in Cairo, said. The
two groups agreed to resolve the fate of prisoners held by both sides
"in a timeline not going beyond the end of the inter-Palestinian
dialogue meetings," a joint statement they released said.
certain number of detainees will be freed right at the beginning of the
dialogue," said the statement from Azzam al-Ahmad, leader of the Fatah
bloc in the Palestinian parliament, and Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas
Hamas members freed
The statement said: "Other detainees will be freed successively so
that this issue will be totally closed before the end of the national
Zahar said 80 Hamas members held in the West Bank, which is
controlled by Fatah, have been released and that 300 were still being
A planned unity government by Fatah and Hamas will deal with foreign
governments, co-ordinate reconstruction in the Gaza Strip and prepare
for Palestinian presidential and legislative elections.
Fatah, the secular group headed by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian
president, and Hamas have long been rivals but their feuding boiled
over in June 2007 when Hamas seized control of the Gaza strip.
Thursday's conference, which will also bring in other Palestinian
factions, stems from Egyptian proposals for a lasting ceasefire
following Israel's 23-day onslaught on Gaza.
More than 1,300 people were killed and buildings and infrastructure destroyed.
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