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Fatah official: Serious progress in unity talks

Sept. 27, 2010 12:19 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 28, 2010 2:11 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- A Fatah Revolutionary Council member said Monday that "serious progress" has been made in finalizing a unity deal between his party and Hamas following a meeting in Damascus over the week.

Faisal Abu Shahla told Ma'an that representatives from the rival parties agreed on three disputed points of four during the Damascus meeting, which have thus far stalled the ratification of the Egyptian-backed unity deal.

Officials agreed in Damascus on the structure of the Central Elections Committee, whose members would be agreed on in advance then referred to President Mahmoud Abbas for approval, and on the formation of an elections court, which has been referred to the president, Abu Shahla said.

Abu Shahla also said officials reached a consensus that the formation and decisions of the PLO's leadership, which is comprised of party secretary-generals, could not be postponed or halted.

Hamas has maintained that the Egyptian document should be amended to include a clause on the restructuring of the PLO, of which it is currently not a member, refusing to sign the deal as a result.

The Fatah official said however that while representatives discussed security issues, no agreement was reached but that further meetings in Damascus will be held next week in a bid to reach a consensus.

Both parties have expressed concern over the structure and jurisdiction of their respective security forces under a new deal, and mechanisms by which they would be unified under one body.

On Wednesday, Hamas leader in Damascus Moussa Abu Marzouq said disputed points on the Egyptian deal were reviewed and that an agreement had been reached on several issues.

"There will be another meeting soon to discuss and agree on the rest of disputed items in order to reach a final draft to be approved by all Palestinian factions," the Hamas official said, adding that parties agreed to plan for the continuation of talks.

Fatah signed the Egyptian document in October 2009, though Hamas officials said there were issues in the document that they felt did not address concerns held by the party.

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