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Hamas: Unity talks still on despite Gaza report controversy

Oct. 6, 2009 12:07 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 7, 2009 12:46 P.M.)
Gaza – Ma’an – Hamas denied news reports on Tuesday that the movement added new conditions for a proposed Palestinian unity deal as a result of the deferral of action on the Goldstone report on war crimes in Gaza.

“We have not set any new preconditions because we appreciate the Egyptian efforts and we are interested in completing a conciliation agreement,” Hamas spokesperson said over the phone.

Barhoum also explained that his movement and other factions were invited to a meeting on 26 October in Cairo at which a unity deal will reportedly be signed.The extent of our knowledge is that delegations will leave to Cairo on 18 October to begin dialogue on the 19th hoping to sign agreement before the end of the month, he added.

The Hamas official said the Palestinian Authority’s decision to defer action on the Goldstone report in the UN Human Rights Council did not, however, indicate good will for reconciliation.

President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas has come under fire for buckling to US pressure to delay action on Justice Richard Goldstone’s investigation of Israel’s winter war on the Gaza Strip which claimed the lives of more than 1,400 Palestinians in just three weeks.

Asked about the possibility that Palestinian factions could be forced to go to Cairo to sign an agreement, he said Egypt has not force any side to sign on any given date. Barhoum said Egypt instead plays the role of mediator, extending every effort to complete a unity agreement.

These remarks were made after Egypt’s foreign minister told reporters on Tuesday that Hamas and Fatah would definitely sign a deal in Cairo on the 26th.

We agreed to hold a meeting for Palestinian factions in Cairo on October 25 before signing a reconciliation agreement on October 26," Ahmad Aboul Gheit told a joint news conference his Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh, according to AFP.

Earlier on Tuesday, Hamas officials accused Abbas of treason for allegedly ordering UN envoy to delay action on the war crimes report.

“How can the parties sit at the reconciliation table and how can they create an atmosphere for signing the reconciliation in a situation created by the decision to postpone the Goldstone report?” asked de facto Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh during a meeting with lawmakers in Gaza.
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