Agenda: Fatah/Hamas reconciliation, armed resistance, PLO reform
Updated January 16th, security issues dealt with, item 4.
For previous steps see Movement across the Israel Hamas divide,
Step by step Fatah and Hamas make space for each other. This posting contains 4 news reports, from AFP, Egypt Independent, IMEMC and PIC.
AFP- Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi (R) meets with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Cairo on January 9, 2013. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Meshaal have agreed to expedite a stalled reconciliation deal between the rival factions, a Hamas official said Thursday
Hamas, Fatah chiefs agree to push for reconciliation
Hamas, Fatah chiefs agree to push for reconciliation
January 10, 2013
Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and exiled Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal have agreed to expedite a stalled reconciliation deal between the rival factions, a Hamas official said Thursday.
The decision came at a meeting in Cairo that was the first in almost a year between the West Bank’s Fatah leader Abbas and Meshaal, who heads the Hamas movement that rules the Gaza Strip, and was aimed at ending years of bitter and sometimes deadly rivalry.
“The two parties agreed to call on all Palestinian factions to implement the reconciliation agreement,” Hamas politburo member Izzat al-Rishq, who attended the gathering, told AFP.
It was held in a “very good and promising atmosphere,” he added.
Fatah and Hamas officials will meet soon to discuss further developments, Rishq said, but did not give a date or more details.
“Fatah and Hamas agree on launching measures of reconciliation,” Egyptian state television quoted Yasser Ali, spokesman for Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, as saying.
On their visit to Cairo, Abbas and Meshaal also held separate talks with Morsi.
Meshaal and Abbas focused on implementing the Egypt-brokered April 2011 unity agreement aimed at ending years of infighting that was signed in May that year, but whose main provisions have yet to be put into practice.
The Palestinian national movements’ rivalry exploded into violence in June 2007 when Hamas forces seized control of Gaza a year after they won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections.
Meshaal met Abbas in Cairo in February 2012, but there has been little progress towards ending the crippling divide between their movements.
In his meeting with Abbas, Morsi discussed Palestinian reconciliation, the Israeli blockade of Gaza and the financial woes of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, which Fatah dominates.
“Morsi promised to work towards lifting the Gaza blockade and helping Palestinians out of their financial crisis, lobbying donors and (our) Arab brothers,” Fatah’s lead negotiator Azzam al-Ahmed told AFP.
Egypt has boosted support for Gaza since Morsi was elected president in June.
Even before the Palestinian leaders met on Wednesday, there was no let-up in recriminations.
“Egypt’s invitation does not necessarily mean this meeting will lead to a serious start of implementing” the agreement, said Yousef Rizq, political adviser to Hamas’s prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniya.
“Abbas’s insistence on holding elections first affects the atmosphere of the meeting,” he said, stressing that all the provisions in the agreement should go into effect simultaneously.
But Ahmed said Abbas wanted the election committee to resume its work, “and after the committee ends its work, and there is a consensus government, then there will be elections.”
He said a senior Hamas official had told him the reconciliation deal should be implemented after the Islamist movement “reorders its house” — in an allusion to possible elections for a new leadership for the Islamist group.
Egyptian officials have said that a reconciliation deal that would allow Hamas representation in the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organisation, historically headed by Fatah, and the formation of a unity government, are opposed by Washington.
The United States, along with other Western countries and Israel, say Hamas must renounce violence and recognise Israel.
Hamas is officially sworn to Israel’s destruction but says it could accept a Palestinian state on the basis of the lines that existed before the 1967 Six-Day War when the Jewish state captured the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.
By Egypt Independent
January 14, 2013
Fatah and Hamas will meet in Cairo on Wednesday [16th] in a bid to continue reconciliation talks, according to Fatah Central Committee member Azam al-Ahmad.
Ahmad, who is in charge of reconciliation affairs, told the official Palestinian radio station discussions on Mahmoud Abbas’ national consensus government will start once the central election commission resumes its work. Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, stopped the commission’s work in July 2012, leading to a halt in reconciliation talks.
Abbas met with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Cairo last Wednesday after holding separate meetings with President Mohamed Morsy, who pledged to continue sponsoring efforts to achieve reconciliation.
The meeting wrapped up with both sides agreeing to start talks over forming a consensus government headed by Abbas, as well as the dates for national council, parliamentary and presidential elections.
Hamas and Fatah have signed two reconciliation agreements, one in May 2010 sponsored by Egypt and one in February 2011 sponsored by Qatar. Both agreements called for a unity government to end the internal Palestinian conflict that has simmered since 2007.
However, disputes prevented the agreements from being implemented. Fatah insisted that a date for elections had to be set, while Hamas said that all conflict between the two sides had to first cease.
Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr had said earlier Sunday that he hoped that a Palestinian reconciliation could be achieved, saying it would be in the interests of all Palestinian parties.
Amr’s remarks came after the talks held between Amr and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Foreign Minister Riyadh al-Malky of the Fatah-led Palestinian government on Sunday evening. They discussed the financial and economic difficulties experienced by the Palestinian people.
“Talks over the peace file are taking place,” said the Egyptian Minister, “We listened to the Palestinian party and we will see [as to] the possibility of pushing this file [forward] in the coming period.”
Egypt is working to help lift the Palestinian Authority from its current financial crisis. Amr said that the financial crisis was raised during his talks with the EU Council president, as well as with donor countries.
Amr added that Palestinian-Israeli talks are taking place over Tel Aviv’s cutting of funds to the Palestinian Authority.
He stressed that the current Israeli settlement policy is unacceptable, saying, “We hope in the coming period after the upcoming Israeli elections and the formation of the new US administration that serious action be taken.”
Meanwhile, Hamas said Monday it will sign a final protocol with the Egyptian government Thursday to import building material and other materials for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.
Materials will be delivered to Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, Hamas’s Minister of Public Works and Housing, Yousef al-Ghariz, said in a press statement.
Signatories to the protocol include the state of Qatar, which is the prime donor for the reconstruction efforts, as well as the Egyptian Ministry of Housing and Urban Communities and the company providing materials, Ghariz added, saying that the materials include light and heavy machinery, at prices less than those on the local Palestinian market.
On 29 December, Egyptian authorities allowed Gaza to import the first batch of building materials, which were transported on 20 lorries.
In October, the chairman of the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, Mohamed al-Emadi, said all materials would be sent through Egypt rather than Israel, unlike other international reconstruction initiatives.
Qatar has donated US$407 million for Gaza reconstruction. More than 20 reconstruction projects financed by the Gulf country began two weeks ago.
By IMEMC & Agencies
January 14, 2013
Representatives of the Fateh and Hamas movements will be holding a meeting this coming Wednesday in Cairo, Azzam Al-Ahmad, member of the Fateh Central
The Maan News Agency reported that the small-scale meeting will be held to discuss the means to implement the Palestinian Reconciliation Agreement.
Al-Ahmad added that a meeting of the committee that is in charge of reforming the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) will be held sometime between the eighth and tenth of February.
He also said that President Mahmoud Abbas will be attending the Economic and Social Summit that will be held on January 21 in Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia.
Abbas will also participate in the Islamic Summit that will be held in Cairo at the beginning of next month.
Last Wednesday, President Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas’ Political Bureau Chief, Khaled Mashal, held a meeting in Cairo, and agreed on the urgency of implementing the Palestinian reconciliation and unity agreement.
By Palestinian Information Centre
January 14, 2013
GAZA– Fawzi Barhoum, the spokesman for Hamas movement, said that any obstacles that would disrupt the reconciliation process have been raised and discussed at the dialogue table.
Barhoum said in a statement to PIC on Monday: “The security file was developed in the agreement of the 17th of March 2009, which was held in Cairo and it is one of the 5 files that will be discussed on the table”, pointing out that the file has been discussed in the presence of the Egyptian side.
Hamas spokesman noted that several solutions for this file have been developed to ensure that the legal security services to be formed will not be linked to the occupation and will be based on protecting the homeland and the citizens.
He noted that the two sides agreed on the formation of a security committee, from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, that includes Egyptian experts to work on the re-formulation of the security services, in light of the agreements.
The Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper reported that the Palestinian Authority required dissolving all arms of the armed resistance, especially the Ezz El Din al-Qassam Brigades the military wing of Hamas, in addition to all the security services in the Gaza Strip, which may cause the failure of the Palestinian reconciliation, if Fatah insists on its position, according to the paper.