Hamas, Fatah Meet In Cairo, Don’t Reach Agreement

Palestinian Authority factions meeting in Cairo to seal a reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas were to hold a second round of talks on Saturday after the failure of initial efforts, delegates said, according to AFP.

The talks are being held under the umbrella of the provisional governing body of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is charged with bringing non-members Hamas and Islamic Jihad into the PLO.

A round of discussions on Friday night lasted eight hours, reported AFP.

“The atmosphere was positive but we need another meeting to sort out some interpretations and differences in point of view,” Maher al-Taher, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was quoted as having told reporters.

PLO executive committee member Wassel Abu Yussef said the main differences were over polls to the Palestine National Council (PNC), the PLO’s parliament, and over legislative and presidential elections in the Palestinian Authority-assigned areas.

“Fatah wants the (transitional non-partisan) government (tasked with organizing the elections) formed at the same time as a decree setting the date for elections,” Abu Yussef explained.

“Hamas wants the government to be formed first to end the division before the date of elections is decided,” he added.

Also, Fatah and independent figures in the PLO provisional governing body want the same system to apply for the PNC and parliament, whereas Hamas wants proportional representation within the Palestine National Council.

Hamas, which rules Gaza, wants a breakdown of 75 percent proportional representation for polling in Judea and Samaria and Gaza, and the rest under a one-person, one-vote system.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who heads Fatah and the PLO, has convened the conference of all organizations in the Egyptian capital, where his party and Hamas signed a reconciliation agreement on April 27, 2011.

Most of its clauses have gone unheeded and deadlines have been postponed.

The PLO provisional governing council met in Cairo for the first time in December 2011. It includes PLO leaders and the heads of groups currently under its umbrella, as well as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and independent personalities.

Hamas last week authorized the Central Elections Commission to start registering voters in Gaza, removing a major obstacle to reconciliation with Fatah.

The CEC said voter registration will be carried out from February 11 to 18.

Hamas and Fatah have been at odds since Hamas violently took over control of Gaza in 2007.

The sides appeared to have been getting closer since Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza in November. During the counterterrorism operation, the two factions announced they have decided to end infighting. The Palestinian Authority later announced it will release Hamas-affiliated detainees as a goodwill gesture to boost reconciliation efforts.

Several weeks later, for the first time since its violent takeover of Gaza, Hamas allowed the Gaza branch of Fatah party to mark its anniversary in the region. Abbas and Hamas’s politburo chief, Khaled Mashaal, later met in Cairo to discuss the reconciliation.

At the same time, PA security forces arrested more than 25 members of Hamas over a 48 hour period last week.