The rival Palestinian factions of Hamas and Fatah agreed on Wednesday to form a new committee to follow up on all the reconciliation issues and accelerate the work of the other related committees. Leaders of the two groups met formally this week on the sidelines of the 12th Islamic Summit in Cairo.
PLO executive committee member Azam al-Ahmad said that they had discussed and evaluated those recommendations of previous meetings which have been achieved to date. Mr. Al-Ahmad, who is the lead Fatah envoy to the Palestinian reconciliation discussions, said that he and Hamas deputy leader Mousa Abu-Marzouq and a number of Egyptian officials are going to be members of the new committee, which is charged with finding solutions to any problems blocking the reconciliation process. He confirmed that the leadership meeting to be held on Friday to set out the agenda and time-frame for reconciliation will be chaired by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Senior representatives of the PLO, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have regular meetings with each other and Egyptian officials, added Al-Ahmad.
Mousa Abu-Marzouq, meanwhile, said that the serious discussions about the formation of a new unity government will start on Sunday. "The delay," he pointed out, "was due to Fatah's demand for them to start when the Elections Committee starts work in Gaza." Noting that the security portfolio is the most sensitive of all, Abu-Marzouq said that discussions about it have been postponed.
He added that Hamas has asked for the money held by the Arab league for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip in the wake of the 2008/2009 Israeli war against Palestinian civilians in the beleaguered territory to be handed over so that work can begin.