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Palestinian rivals begin reconciliation talks

Palestinian rivals begin reconciliation talks

Rival Palestinian factions exchanged strong words but produced no concrete results on the first day of their reconciliation talks Tuesday aimed at coming up with a power-sharing agreement between Fatah and Hamas and eventually holding elections.
One of the participants at the Cairo-hosted discussions, Bilal Qassim of the Palestinian Liberation Front, said the sides would continue Wednesday to try "to solve the issues" that divide them.
As the sides embarked on what is expected to be at least 10 days of meetings in the Egyptian capital, Egypt's intelligence chief and mediator Omar Suleiman urged all to forget the contentious past.
"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."
The Palestinians are divided between the militant group Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip and the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas which dominates the West Bank. Hamas' violent takeover of Gaza in 2007 led to a deep split between the internationally backed Fatah and the widely shunned Hamas.
Overcoming the distrust between the factions is seen as key to moving ahead with reconstruction in Gaza after Israel's recent offensive there.
The Palestinian representatives in Cairo are working in five committees, deliberating specific issues _ from forming a unity government, holding new elections, reforming the security services, carrying out confidence-building measures and finding a role for Hamas in the Palestine Liberation Organization. Other Palestinian factions are also present.
The talks come after Western-backed Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, submitted his resignation Saturday to facilitate the formation of a national unity government that would reunite the Palestinians.
Abbas appointed Fayyad in June 2007, following Hamas' bloody takeover of Gaza. Fayyad announced he will step down once a new government is formed, but no later than the end of March.
Previous unity accords have collapsed in mistrust and infighting, but this time both sides appear to have a strong incentive to reach an accord.
Hamas needs Fatah's international respectability to help end the devastating blockade of Gaza imposed by Egypt and Israel and obtain foreign funding to rebuild Gaza.
Fatah and Abbas, whose popularity took a beating due to his perceived lack of decisiveness during the Gaza war, need to find a way to blunt the challenges from Hamas.
"There were strong words exchanged between Hamas and Fatah and many opposing points remain," said one Palestinian representative, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks had only started in Cairo.


Updated : 2021-03-03 17:20 GMT+08:00