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'Initial' reconciliation deal signed in Cairo

April 27, 2011 6:54 P.M. (Updated: April 28, 2011 2:20 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Hamas and Fatah signed an initial reconciliation agreement in Cairo on Wednesday, officials told Ma'an.

The deal is to form a caretaker government and set a date for elections. The details will be made clear at a news conference in Cairo, said Ash-Shaqaqi, the head of a delegation of independents pushing the deal.

Hamas leader Izzat Ar-Rishiq confirmed the signing of an initial agreement with Fatah, according to a statement published by the Palestinian Information Center, a Hamas-affiliated website. Ar-Rishiq said Cairo will call all the Palestinian factions to sign the final reconciliation within the week with the presence of Mahmud Abbas and Khalid Mash'al.

Fatah spokesman Azzam Al-Ahmad told the Al-Quds Voice radio in Gaza that the agreement forms a technocratic government that represents all Palestinian factions. He added that Egypt will invite all the factions in early May to hear their notes and to sign the final deal.

Delegations from the rival Palestinian factions arrived in Cairo on Wednesday to hold talks, Palestinian sources said. The teams were to meet Egypt's new spy chief Murad Muwafi, whose predecessor Omar Suleiman tried unsuccessfully to bridge a split that has left Gaza and the West Bank ruled by rival administrations.

The delegation of the Islamist movement Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip includes senior members from the territory and its Damascus-based deputy leader, Moussa Abu Marzouq.

Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza, has tried to bring the two sides together since Hamas defeated Fatah loyalists in week-long street battles four years ago, reducing their power base to the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Nabil Al-Arabi, Egypt's new foreign minister, has said he plans to visit Ramallah, seat of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas who heads Fatah, to push for unity.

The factions were on the verge of agreeing a deal in 2009 that would have led to a transitional government ahead of elections when Hamas pulled out, saying the accord had been revised without its approval.

AFP contributed to this report.
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