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Palestinian leaders agree to activate Cairo unity agreement

February 17, 2014 at 1:50 am

Khaled Meshaal and Mahmoud Abbas have agreed to activate the 2011 Cairo reconciliation agreement. The head of Hamas’s political bureau met the Palestinian Authority president in the presence of Colonel Ra’fat Shehta, Egypt’s intelligence chief in the Egyptian capital this week.

Hamas spokesman Izzat Al-Risheq said that the aim of the meeting was to “revive” Palestinian reconciliation with a new positive spirit. “This is the first meeting of its kind,” he stressed, noting that the two leaders agreed to invite all the other Palestinian factions to take part in this national project.

“A bilateral meeting between Hamas and Fatah is to be held next week to propose and study implementation mechanisms and a timetable,” said Mr. Al-Risheq. “In addition, the meeting is scheduled to come out with an agenda for a meeting next month to discuss restructuring the PLO.” The meeting, he added, was held in a “positive atmosphere”.

The split between the Palestinian factions erupted when Fatah refused to accept the results of the general election in 2006, in which rival group Hamas achieved an overwhelming victory. Fatah attacked Hamas parliamentarians and set fire to PA offices and archives. Israel imposed a strict siege on the PA, especially in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas has most support.

In the resulting chaos, many Palestinians from both sides were killed. The elected Hamas government also arrested dozens of Fatah members who were convicted of carrying out “intentional killings”.

In a counter-measure and apparently with help from the Israeli occupation authorities through what is known as “security cooperation”, Fatah controlled the West Bank and arrested hundreds of Hamas members. Israel itself arrested 51 Hamas parliamentarians and ministers.

When Egypt drafted the reconciliation agreement in 2011 it called upon Fatah and Hamas to form an interim unity government to oversee a new election and reform the PLO to include Hamas and other less popular groups who are not represented therein.