Palestinian factions hold key talks in Cairo

The Palestinian factions discussed the implementation of a reconciliation deal in Cairo.

Cairo: The Palestinian factions on Tuesday discussed the implementation of a reconciliation deal in Cairo, but put off any decisions on the key issues of security
and an interim government until next year.

"This meeting has one aim: to put in place mechanisms for ending Palestinian division," said Azzam al-Ahmed, the head of the Fatah delegation at the talks facilitated by Egypt`s intelligence service.

On the agenda were questions relating to a range of key issues, including the formation of a caretaker cabinet, security, parliamentary and presidential elections, which are to take place in May, and reformation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), he said.

"Today`s meeting will reach agreement over the formation of a Palestinian electoral committee which will prepare for elections," said Ahmed.

Izzat al-Rishq, a senior official from the Hamas delegation, said he hoped the parties would make progress on the release of political prisoners held by both sides.

"We want to take steps to build confidence and we hope that this meeting will show progress towards that," he said referring to the prisoners.

"Through this meeting, all the Palestinian national movements are reaffirming their determination that 2011 will not finish without putting an end to the division," he said.

Officials from the rival Fatah and Hamas movements have been holding talks in Cairo since Sunday to discuss ways of implementing a landmark reconciliation deal which was signed in May but which has never got off the ground.

On Thursday, Palestinian president and Fatah chief Mahmud Abbas will preside over a meeting of the PLO Commission, a body set up in 2005 to examine ways of reforming the organisation, Ahmed said.

All the faction leaders belong to the PLO Commission, and Thursday`s meeting was to be attended by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and Islamic Jihad head Ramadan Shallah.

Neither faction currently belongs to the PLO, although discussions are under way to restructure the body in order to let them join.

Both Meshaal and Abbas were expected in Cairo on Wednesday, officials said.

The deal signed between the two former rivals in May called for the establishment of a caretaker cabinet which would prepare for legislative and presidential elections
within a year, but it was never implemented.

Any decisions on the issues of an interim government and security, two major obstacles to the implementation of the reconciliation deal, appear to have been postponed until 2012.

Ahmed, the Fatah delegation head, said that he did not expect any agreement on the two key issues "before the end of January".


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