HIsham Abu Taha
Arab News
July 20, 2009 - 12:00am

GAZA/RAMALLAH:Egyptian-mediated Palestinian reconciliation talks between rivals Fatah and Hamas set for next Saturday have been delayed for a month. A senior Fatah official on Saturday said that his movement and Hamas decided to postpone the talks until Aug. 25.

Azzam Al-Ahmed, a member of Fatah team to Cairo reconciliation talks, said in a press statement that the dialogue between the two groups had failed to reach a deal. “Egyptian officials decided that some issues required further discussion and efforts. The date for the last round of talks, July 25, does not leave enough time to resolve the differences,” said Al-Ahmed.

“So it was agreed to delay the talks until Aug. 25,” he added.

The rival Palestinian factions resumed reconciliation talks in February and had agreed to begin what they said would be a final round on Saturday.

Cairo has been mediating the talks between President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party and Hamas aimed at healing bitter divisions between the two, aggravated when Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007.

Hamas and Fatah delegations have been meeting in Cairo over the last two days to discuss the talks’ progress.

The talks hope to seal a deal which will lay out a new electoral law as well as define the make-up of security forces and of a committee to liaise between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank ahead of an election in 2010. Meanwhile, a senior Hamas leader on Sunday accused Fatah movement of creating a negative atmosphere by continuing to arrest Hamas members in the West Bank, and rejecting the Egyptian proposals.

In an interview with a local news agency Ma’an, Sami Abu Zuhri said that “Fatah is not interested in any national reconciliation”, while his movement has already accepted an Egyptian initiative to end political arrests and create an interim committee to govern the Gaza Strip and a joint security force.

“We in Hamas are ready to hold the elections but on the condition of holding it inside Palestine and in diaspora including the National Council and the Judicial Committee,” he said, accusing Fatah of seeking to delay elections slated for next January. He also said that elections would require an end to the siege of Gaza, the beginning of reconstruction in Gaza, the release of prisoners, and international safeguards against further Israeli arrests of Palestinian legislators.


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