- Middle East/North Africa
Fatah and Hamas will meet in Cairo on Wednesday in a bid to continue reconciliation talks, according to Fatah Central Committee member Azam al-Ahmad.
Ahmad, who is in charge of reconciliation affairs, told the official Palestinian radio station discussions on Mahmoud Abbas’ national consensus government will start once the central election commission resumes its work. Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, stopped the commission’s work in July 2012, leading to a halt in reconciliation talks.
Abbas met with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Cairo last Wednesday after holding separate meetings with President Mohamed Morsy, who pledged to continue sponsoring efforts to achieve reconciliation.
The meeting wrapped up with both sides agreeing to start talks over forming a consensus government headed by Abbas, as well as the dates for national council, parliamentary and presidential elections.
Hamas and Fatah have signed two reconciliation agreements, one in May 2010 sponsored by Egypt and one in February 2011 sponsored by Qatar. Both agreements called for a unity government to end the internal Palestinian conflict that has simmered since 2007.
However, disputes prevented the agreements from being implemented. Fatah insisted that a date for elections had to be set, while Hamas said that all conflict between the two sides had to first cease.
Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr had said earlier Sunday that he hoped that a Palestinian reconciliation could be achieved, saying it would be in the interests of all Palestinian parties.
Amr's remarks came after the talks held between Amr and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Foreign Minister Riyadh al-Malky of the Fatah-led Palestinian government on Sunday evening. They discussed the financial and economic difficulties experienced by the Palestinian people.
“Talks over the peace file are taking place,” said the Egyptian Minister, “We listened to the Palestinian party and we will see [as to] the possibility of pushing this file [forward] in the coming period.”
Egypt is working to help lift the Palestinian Authority from its current financial crisis. Amr said that the financial crisis was raised during his talks with the EU Council president, as well as with donor countries.
Amr added that Palestinian-Israeli talks are taking place over Tel Aviv's cutting of funds to the Palestinian Authority.
He stressed that the current Israeli settlement policy is unacceptable, saying, “We hope in the coming period after the upcoming Israeli elections and the formation of the new US administration that serious action be taken.”
Meanwhile, Hamas said Monday it will sign a final protocol with the Egyptian government Thursday to import building material and other materials for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.
Materials will be delivered to Gaza through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, Hamas's Minister of Public Works and Housing, Yousef al-Ghariz, said in a press statement.
Signatories to the protocol include the state of Qatar, which is the prime donor for the reconstruction efforts, as well as the Egyptian Ministry of Housing and Urban Communities and the company providing materials, Ghariz added, saying that the materials include light and heavy machinery, at prices less than those on the local Palestinian market.
On 29 December, Egyptian authorities allowed Gaza to import the first batch of building materials, which were transported on 20 lorries.
In October, the chairman of the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, Mohamed al-Emadi, said all materials would be sent through Egypt rather than Israel, unlike other international reconstruction initiatives.
Qatar has donated US$407 million for Gaza reconstruction. More than 20 reconstruction projects financed by the Gulf country began two weeks ago.