CAIRO (Ma’an) — The Hamas and Fatah movements released a joint statement late Tuesday, shortly after the conclusion of the first day of reconciliation talks between the two rival Palestinian factions, saying that the “atmosphere was positive” on the first day of meetings.
According to the statement, the talks — taking place in Cairo — went on for almost 10 hours under Egyptian sponsorship.
“We thank Egypt for its sponsorship in achieving reconciliation and ending division and we look forward to continuing talks on Wednesday in the same high spirits,” the statement read.
Several topics were reportedly discussed, though no decisions were made. A major point of discussion, according to the statement, was finding ways to “lift the suffering off Palestinians’ shoulders and lessen the hardship of living conditions in the Gaza Strip.”
Earlier Tuesday, official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency reported that Fatah officials had said that the main issue on the agenda would be discussing how to empower the Fatah-led PA in Gaza, following the government’s takeover of power last week from Hamas’ de facto administration.
Hamas had agreed to hand over administrative control of the Gaza Strip to the PA earlier this month in order to pave the way for reconciliation with Fatah, with whom Hamas has been embroiled in conflict since its election victory in legislative elections in 2006, sparking a violent conflict between the two movements.According to Wafa, Fatah officials expressed concern over transferring power and control of Gaza’s border crossings from Hamas to Fatah within the next two weeks.
Topics such as national elections, security, the justice system and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) will also be discussed in Cairo, Wafa said.
Numerous attempts have been made in the past to reconcile Hamas and Fatah since they came into violent conflict in 2007, shortly after Hamas’ 2006 victory in general elections held in the Gaza Strip.
In addition to resolving the issue of public employees
, Hamas and Fatah plan to pave the way for legislative elections for the unity government that would rule both the occupied West Bank and Gaza. The issue of administering Gaza’s border crossings and the territory’s dire electricity crisis will also have to be resolved.
However, the main obstacle facing the unity government is the future of Hamas’ military wing
. The movement has insisted that its weapons are not up for discussion, based on Hamas’ identity as a military resistance movement against Israel.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has meanwhile said multiple times that he would not accept the “Hezbollah model” in place in Lebanon, and that “there should only be one authority, one weapon, one law, and one political program” for both regions of the occupied territory.