Damascus: Palestinian rivals Hamas and
Fatah announced on Saturday that they have agreed on steps to end
their division and share power and said they will hold more
talks before signing a final deal in Cairo.
The two sides have been bitterly divided since Hamas
militants violently seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007,
leaving Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of
Fatah in control only of the West Bank.
Reconciliation between the Palestinian factions is
important because Abbas` Palestinian Authority needs a
unanimous stance to back its newly started peace talks with
Israel. The militants of Hamas oppose peace with Israel and
have threatened to spoil the talks with violence.
The agreement came during a four-hour meeting that
ended early today between two delegations headed by Hamas`
exiled leader, Khaled Mashaal, and senior Fatah official Azzam
A joint statement issued after the talks said the two
sides have reached an understanding on "the majority of
points of difference."
It gave no details, but the sides have differed over
control of Palestinian security forces and the date for
parliamentary and presidential elections.
Hamas official Izzat Rashaq said the next meeting is
expected during the first week of October. The two groups will
then head to Cairo to sign a reconciliation agreement.
That would clear the way for new Palestinian
Egypt has been trying to reconcile the rivals and
hosted several rounds of powersharing talks in Cairo last
year. Egypt had proposed Palestinian presidential and
legislative elections be held in the first half of 2010 and
that the security forces be reorganised under Abbas`
Hamas and several other Syria-based Palestinian
factions rejected the proposal because it did not state that
the Palestinians have the right to ``resist Israeli
occupation." Fatah accepted the Egyptian plan.