Hamas, Fatah join Gaza reconciliation talks

Filed on February 14, 2010

GAZA CITY - Palestinian groups including Hamas and Fatah held talks on Sunday in the Gaza Strip aimed at finding reconciliation between the rival factions, they said in a statement.

The meeting, the first for two years according to Ayman Taha, a spokesman for Hamas in the Palestinian enclave, was designed to overcome obstacles to the signing of an reconciliation pact in Cairo late last year.

The deal, negotiated over several months under Egyptian mediation, was signed by Fatah by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, but Hamas has so far refused to endorse it.

Participants in Sunday’s talks agreed on the need to continue their efforts for an agreement, and welcomed the “positive atmosphere” during the Gaza meeting, according to the statement.

The head of the Hamas government, Ismail Haniya, said in a separate statement that there was no alternative to Egyptian mediation for Palestinian reconciliation and called for a solution before a March 27-28 Arab summit in Libya.

Cairo has twice postponed the signing of the agreement because of deep divisions between Hamas and Fatah, who have been at loggerheads with each other since the former seized power from the latter in Gaza in June 2007.

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