Rival Palestinian factions to meet on Oct 20: Hamas

Fatah and Hamas plan to hold a second round of reconciliation talks in Syria.

Gaza City: The bitterly divided Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas plan to hold a second round of reconciliation talks in Syria on October 20, a senior Gaza-based Hamas official said on Tuesday.

"A joint meeting of Hamas and Fatah has been arranged for October 20 in Damascus after a previous meeting between us which had a measure of success," Salah al-Bardawil said.

He said the discussions would be aimed at "forming a joint security committee" as part of a process of reconciling the two movements.

The Islamist Hamas movement that controls Gaza and the secular Fatah movement led by Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas held talks last month in Damascus, where Hamas` exiled leadership is based.

The two movements struggled for months to reach a unity agreement through Egyptian mediation but those efforts came to a halt in October 2009 when Hamas refused to sign an agreement endorsed by Egypt and Fatah.

Longstanding divisions between the two factions boiled over in June 2007 when Hamas seized power in Gaza after a week of fierce street battles, confining Abbas` Palestinian Authority to the occupied West Bank.

Since then each side has accused the other of arresting and mistreating scores of its supporters, and in recent months Hamas has strongly criticised the Authority`s security cooperation with Israel in the West Bank.


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