Palestinian rivals launch attempt to move ahead on reconciliation
RAMALLAH - Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal are to meet this month in an attempt to move ahead on reconciliation between the rivals, an official said on Thursday.
"It was agreed with Hamas that a meeting would be held between president Abbas and Khaled Meshaal before the end of the month in Cairo, and I confirm that the meeting will take place," Azzam al-Ahmad, an official in Abbas's Fatah movement said, without specifying the date.
He said the meeting would focus on "Palestinian unity, future Palestinian strategy, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and future prospects."
Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, is not a member of the Fatah-dominated PLO.
Ahmad said that there would be a preparatory meeting between officials of the two groups ahead of the summit.
The secular Fatah signed an unexpected reconciliation deal with the militant Islamist Hamas in May under which they were to have set up a caretaker government of independents which would prepare for elections within a year.
But the agreement has never been implemented, with both sides bickering over the composition of the interim government and who should head it.
Abbas's West Bank-based Palestinian Authority has proposed elections in January in a bid to resolve that argument.
The last time the Palestinians went to the polls was for parliamentary elections in 2006, which Hamas won by a landslide.
New parliamentary and presidential elections had been due to be held in January 2010 but the Palestinian Authority abandoned efforts to hold a vote after Hamas refused to organise one in Gaza.