Agence France Presse (AFP)
September 28, 2008 - 8:00pm

Rival Palestinian factions will meet in Cairo in November to launch an Egyptian plan aimed at forming a national consensus government, a Fateh official said on Sunday.

"We expect the Palestinian national dialogue to take place on November 4 for one day, in order to end the divisions between the Palestinians," senior adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Shaath, told AFP.

He said the talks would be followed a week later by a meeting of Arab foreign ministers to adopt the agreement.

He said 13 Palestinian factions will participate in the talks, headed by Abbas' Fateh faction and the rival Islamist movement Hamas.

Egypt has been acting as a mediator between Fateh and Hamas after the Islamist group, which won a parliamentary election in January 2006, seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, routing forces loyal to Fateh.

Egypt's powerful intelligence chief Omar Suleiman has been holding separate talks with the rivals and is expected to meet with a Hamas delegation on October 8.

On Tuesday, Fateh agreed to an Egyptian proposal to create a new government that would be acceptable to the international community.

Shaath said the Egyptian proposal calls for the creation of "a national consensus government tasked with five issues: Lifting the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, opening the Rafah border crossing [between Egypt and Gaza], unifying and restructuring the security services and preparing for presidential and parliamentary elections at an appropriate time".

Shepherd found dead

A Palestinian shepherd was found shot dead in the occupied West Bank on Sunday and Palestinians accused Jewish settlers of killing him. "The body of a bedouin youth was found by one of his family members. [Israeli] police have opened an investigation after a forensic examination showed he had been shot," Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

He was identified as Yahya Atta Bani Menna, 18, from the village of Aqraba, near the Palestinian city of Nablus. Shepherds from the village said there had been a white car in the area belonging to settlers and they had heard the sound of gunfire, but did not see him being shot, members of his family told Reuters. Unidentified witnesses quoted by the Palestinian newspaper Al Ayyam said two settlers armed with automatic rifles followed the teenager in their car and then fired about 20 bullets into him in the daylight incident on Saturday. "We are examining the bullets and type of gun, trying to find out who was behind [the shooting]. Everything is open at the moment," Rosenfeld said. A Palestinian Authority official in the local governor's office said: "We put the responsibility for the killing on Jewish settlers."

Fateh prisoners

The Hamas rulers of Gaza said on Sunday they released five leaders of the rival Fateh faction as well as 30 other prisoners ahead of celebrations marking the end of Ramadan.

"We are releasing these men as we hope the leaders in the West Bank will do the same for the Hamas prisoners," a spokesman for the Islamist movement told AFP.

The release comes ahead of Wednesday's Eid Al Fitr holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.

Hamas-led security forces in July rounded up Fateh members after a deadly beachside bombing, but released 150 of them a few days later.

Hamas had blamed the bombing on Fateh, which denied any involvement in the attack and later launched its own tit-for-tat arrest campaign in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Hamas ousted troops loyal to Abbas from the Gaza Strip when it seized power in the coastal enclave in June 2007.


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