The President of the Palestinian Authority and the Head of the Political Bureau of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, have declared the "kick-off" of a new and "real" partnership. Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshaal made the declaration after meeting in Cairo on Thursday. The two parties will, they said, "turn over a new leaf on the split and work hard on the implementation of the national reconciliation agreement".
A formal reconciliation was agreed seven months ago but has been difficult to put into practice. Thursday's meeting between Abbas and Meshaal was described as "positive".
Speaking to journalists after his second meeting with President Abbas, Mr. Meshaal said, "I assure our people and our nation that we have opened a new page and a real, big partnership in all aspects of the Palestinian house." President Abbas added, "Now we have no disagreements at all between us and we have agreed to work as partners with one responsibility." This will include, it was agreed, an end to the detention of political prisoners with immediate effect.
A date has been set for the first meeting under PLO leadership, which will be held on 22 December; it was agreed to hold elections for the legislative council and the presidency in May next year.
Sources close to the meeting's organisers claimed that it was the first of many between the two movements intended to overcome all obstacles in the way of establishing a transitional government acceptable to Hamas and Fatah, prepare for the elections, reconstruct Gaza, promote peace in the domestic community and unify the institutions of the local authority.
The future of the Palestinian Authority was actually on the agenda, along with the situation in Jerusalem, how to activate the role of the PLO and how to accelerate the rebuilding of the Palestinian National Council. Participants at the meeting also addressed the issue of support for the Popular Resistance, looking into ways to strengthen and consolidate its framework.