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Qatar 'brokering' deal between Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas

If preparatory meetings are successful, Abbas (L) will meet Meshaal (R) in Doha [Getty]

Date of publication: 26 January, 2016

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Talks have been underway between key Palestinian rivals Hamas and Fatah with a meeting scheduled to take place in coming days in Qatari capital Doha to resume reconciliation efforts.
A meeting between Fatah representatives and Hamas leaders is expected to convene in the Qatari capital Doha in the coming days, high-level sources in Ramallah and Gaza have told The New Arab.

The sources said Fatah will be represented in the putative meeting by Azzam al-Ahmad, the person in charge of the reconciliation issue, and Sakher Basiso, Fatah Central Committee member.

Hamas, meanwhile, will send a number of leaders reportedly including Saleh al-Arouri, Musa Abu Marzouq and Izzat al-Rashq.

A meeting was held on Monday in Istanbul between a senior delegation from Hamas, led by official spokesman Hussam Badran and head of foreign affairs in Hamas Oussama Hamdan, and Fatah leaders including Mohammad Hourani, Qaddoura Fares and Mohammad Ghoneim - according to the same sources.

The meeting reportedly sought to discuss the reactivation of Palestinian reconciliation talks, which have stalled for the year and a half.

The Istanbul meeting, the sources said, was held at the initiative of Qatar, after a similar meeting took place in Doha days earlier. 
Among the issues discussed were the reactivation of the PLO, the formation of a national unity government and convening the National Council, as well as seeking an end to the blockade on Gaza
Among the thorny issues discussed were the reactivation of the PLO, the formation of a national unity government and convening the National Council, as well as seeking an end to the blockade on Gaza and agreeing a unified basic political programme regarding the Palestinian cause. 

The sources also told The New Arab Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas could visit Doha next month if these preparatory meetings succeed, and meet with Khaled Meshaal, head of Hamas's political bureau.

"The next meeting will be held this week, and will bring together Azzam al-Ahmad, Sakher Bsiso and Khaled Meshaal in Doha," said Fatah Central Committee member Mohammad Ashtieh to The New Arab.

"Fatah's Central Committee discussed the need for a national unity government in a recent meeting, to include all PLO factions in addition to Hamas and Islamic Jihad," Ashtieh added.

This national unity government would be a first step for agreeing on convening the National Council with Hamas and Jihad's participation, and then holding presidential and legislative elections, he said.

Ashtieh denied the meetings were the results of efforts by one faction in Fatah, and said Abbas did not mind the rapprochement with Hamas.
The New Arab learned the efforts for securing a meeting with Hamas were being led by Fatah leaders close to imprisoned Fatah figure Marwan al-Barghouthi, without prior coordination with Mahmoud Abbas

The New Arab had learned the efforts for securing a meeting with Hamas were being led by Fatah leaders close to imprisoned Fatah figure Marwan al-Barghouthi, without prior coordination with Mahmoud Abbas.

According to sources, however, Abbas met with these Fatah figures and blessed their efforts, but asked them to coordinate with Azzam al-Ahmad.

On the other hand, sources in Hamas told The New Arab the Islamist movement remains cautious given the failure of similar meetings in the past, and the stalling of reconciliation agreements on the ground that has undermined the work of the national accord government formed after Al-Shatei Agreement in April 2014.

Ismail Radwan, Hamas leader, confirmed to The New Arab the efforts to hold a meeting in Doha between the two rival groups to agree on the mechanisms for the implementation of the reconciliation agreements in Cairo and Al-Shatei.

Fatah controls the West Bank, while Hamas wields power in the Gaza Strip. The two groups have been at loggerheads almost constantly since Hamas won elections in the Palestinian Authority in 2006.

After Fatah refused to respect the results of those elections, a brief conflict between the two groups erupted in Gaza, resulting in Hamas's takeover of the Strip.

Many meetings have been held over the years and three agreements were signed — in Qatar, Cairo and Gaza — but none has led to any real change on the ground.

One of the key obstacles to reconciliation is Israeli and international pressure on Fatah to reject real compromise with Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas. Another is security coordination between Fatah and Israeli occupation forces agains resistance activities in the West Bank.

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