Palestinians meet in Cairo, rift clouds Gaza truce prospects

A dispute over the Palestinian Authority's non-payment of salaries to Gaza's public sector workers has brought tensions between the two main Palestinian factions to near-braking point

Palestinians meet in Cairo, rift clouds Gaza truce prospects

World Bulletin/News Desk

The Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah met in Cairo on Wednesday to try to overcome their differences and strengthen their hand for upcoming talks with Israel.

Unless resolved, the rift between the two could threaten the Egyptian-mediated effort to turn the ceasefire agreed with Israel last month that halted the Gaza conflict into a lasting truce.

Hamas official Izzat Risheq said the discussion had taken place in a "positive atmosphere" but he declined to give details, saying the delegations hoped to do so at the end of a second day of meetings on Thursday.

Risheq said Palestinian unity was essential to face the Israeli occupation. Such cooperation between the divided factions could help the Palestinians secure better terms from Israel at next month's talks.

The split between Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah relates to several issues including control of Gaza.

The ceasefire struck between Israel and the Palestinians included stipulations that the Palestinian Authority, led by Abbas, should take over civil administration in Gaza from Hamas.

But a dispute over the Palestinian Authority's non-payment of salaries to Gaza's public sector workers has brought tensions between the two main Palestinian factions to near-breaking point.

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in the Gaza war and wide areas of the enclave were devastated by Israeli air raids and artillery.

Sixty-seven Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel were also killed.

Israel and the Palestinians agreed on Tuesday to resume talks late next month on cementing a Gaza ceasefire, allowing time for Palestinian factions to resolve their divisions.

"There are lots of parties that do not want the talks towards the unity government and prefer division to continue," Risheq said.

Sakher Bseiso, a Fatah central committee member taking part in the Cairo talks, told Reuters Fatah and Hamas were discussing issues including security, elections and governance of Gaza

"PALESTINIAN-PALESTINIAN DIALOGUE"

Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy chairman of Hamas' political bureau, wrote on his social media page about "the Palestinian-Palestinian dialogue", saying: "The most important thing this dialogue needs is good intentions, mutual trust and national responsibility...and commitment to what has been agreed upon."

Egypt's state media agency MENA said the talks were held under the supervision of Egyptian intelligence chief Mohamed Farid el-Tohamy.

Egyptian-mediated talks in July and August succeeded in securing a series of ceasefires with Israel aimed at laying the groundwork for talks on a broader deal.

Efforts to cement a permanent truce could prove difficult, though, with the sides far apart on their central demands, even if the dialogue among Palestinians yields a unified position.

Azzam al-Ahmed, a Fatah official leading the joint delegation in Cairo, said on Tuesday that as well as control of Gaza, Fatah wants decisions on war and peace to be taken at the national level rather than by individual factions.

Fatah and Hamas had first agreed on the make-up of a national unity goverment in May following the collapse of peace talks with Israel. The Jewish state and its main backer, the United States, opposed the move.

Last Mod: 24 Eylül 2014, 22:28
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