Egypt postpones Hamas-Fatah reconciliation talks

November 8th, 2008 - 10:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Cairo/Gaza, Nov 8 (DPA) Egypt announced Saturday that crucial reconciliation talks between the Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah scheduled for Monday are to be postponed.The decision came after Hamas officially told Cairo that it would not take part in the meetings, the Egyptian state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported.

In the Gaza Strip, the local Ramattan news agency quoted Palestinian officials as saying Egypt had informed them that the dialogue meeting was being postponed.

A Hamas official said his movement decided to boycott the Palestinian national dialogue because the rival Fatah movement, headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, continues to deny Hamas’ charges of the ongoing arrest of Hamas supporters in the Fatah-controlled West Bank.

“Egypt is convinced and believes President Abbas’ account that there are no political prisoners in West Bank,” Hamas legislator Salah al-Bardaweel charged. “This has cut any hope to hold the dialogue in this circumstances.”

Abbas denies the accusations and insists his law enforcement forces arrest only people who posed a security risk, regardless of their political affiliation.

Besides Hamas, the Islamic Jihad was also among the factions deciding to boycott the planned meeting.

While no further date has been set for the talks, Egyptian officials said they do not consider Hamas’ decision a boycott. Nor do they foresee cancellation to the talks. Instead, they said they are determined to work toward reconciliation between the two feuding factions.

Egypt will remain in contact with all parties and await the creation of the necessary political will for talks to resume, MENA reported.

“The postponement of the long-awaited talks is heart-breaking,” Nabil Shaath, head of the Fatah party delegation to the dialogue, told al-Jazeera network.

Shaath said Hamas took the wrong decision when it decided to boycott talks that “all our Palestinian brethren, especially in Gaza, are awaiting.”

Shaath explained that Hamas should have joined the talks and brought any complaints to discussions in the meetings “instead of blowing up months of reconciliation efforts”.

Egypt has been a main mediator for the Palestinian issue. For months it has been working with factions to pave the way for a dialogue in a bid to end the current inter-Palestinian crisis.

Following nearly two months of talks with some 12 Palestinian movements, including Fatah and Hamas, Egypt presented a draft plan in late October.

The Egyptian plan calls for establishing a new Palestinian national unity government, rehabilitating the security forces of the Palestinian National Authority, reforming the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and preparing for presidential and legislative elections in the Palestinian territories.

Hamas has welcomed the Egyptian paper, but with some reservations. Those reservations were the focus of pre-dialogue negotiations in Cairo.

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