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Palestinian political parties head to Cairo for reconciliation talks

Leaders from Palestinian political factions headed to the Egyptian capital Cairo on Monday. [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 November, 2017

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Leaders of leading Palestinian political factions headed to the Egyptian capital Cairo on Monday ahead of talks aimed at moving forward a landmark reconciliation agreement signed last month.
Leaders from Palestinian political factions headed to the Egyptian capital Cairo on Monday ahead of talks aimed at moving forward a landmark reconciliation agreement signed last month.

Senior figures from 13 different political factions - including West Bank-based Fatah and Gaza's rulers Hamas - are due to meet on Tuesday for three-days of talks, including discussions about the formation of a new unity government.

A source at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt told AFP that representatives from various factions crossed over on Monday morning.

Under an Egypt-brokered agreement reached last month Hamas is supposed to hand over civil control of Gaza to the Fatah-led national government on 1 December.

"The aim of the meeting is to incorporate all the factions as partners and not just spectators as the page of division is folded for the last time," Azzam al-Ahmed, who heads the Fatah delegation, said in a statement.

The Hamas delegation will be headed by deputy leader Salah al-Aruri and its Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar. Neither Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas nor Hamas chief Ismail Haniya will attend.

Another 11 other smaller political factions will also be in attendance.

The most likely source of tension at the meeting will be the future of Hamas' vast armed wing, although the talks are not expected to lead to a final ruling on the matter.

Gaza's Hamas leader Sinwar said last month that "no one" could force the group to disarm or recognise Israel after the US demanded it meet those conditions as part of an emerging unity government.

Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organisation by the US and the EU, has fought three wars with Israel since 2008.

Israel has maintained a crippling blockade on Gaza for a decade, while Egypt has also kept its border largely closed in recent years.

Multiple previous reconciliation attempts have failed.

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