Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Palestinian rivals end unity talks

Al Jazeera

Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have concluded Egyptian-mediated talks without reaching an agreement on forming a unity government The talks in Cairo, aimed at reaching a unity deal before elections in 2010, came to a close on Tuesday, with the two factions agreeing to meet again on May 16.

Most international powers say they will only deal with a Palestinian government that recognises Israel, a concession that Hamas, or the Islamic Resistance Movement, is unwilling to make.

Egyptian mediators have suggested that Hamas stay out of the transitional government and instead enable Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah leader and Palestinian president, who already has the West's backing, to run it.

As compensation, Hamas and other Palestinian factions would become part of an advisory committee that would be given a say in the government's decisions.

But Hamas, which won a sweeping victory in the 2006 Palestinian parliament elections, appears unlikely to embrace the Egyptian proposal, which would keep them out of the government.

Delegates at the talks also held meetings with Omar Suleiman, Egypt's intelligence chief.

Suleiman reportedly asked for a final response to the Egyptian compromise proposal when talks resume on May 16.

"Now all the concentration is on the Egyptian proposal, which says that ... any government formed by President Abbas will conduct the contacts with the international community," Nabil Shaath, Fatah's negotiator, said.

Poor relations between Fatah and Hamas further degenerated after security forces loyal to Hamas pushed Fatah fighters out of the Gaza Strip in June 2007.

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