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Egypt sends invites for signing ceremony

April 28, 2011 7:19 P.M. (Updated: April 30, 2011 9:04 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- The Egyptian government sent invitations on Thursday to Palestinian political parties for the signing of the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement, in a ceremony to be held next Tuesday in Cairo.

The event will be used to set an implementation mechanism for the unity deal, to be approved by all political groups.

Factions welcomed the invitations, and prepared to send delegations to Egypt.

Walid Al-Awad, politburo member of the leftist Palestine’s People’s Party, told Ma’an that Fatah-Hamas agreement, and planned deal-signing by all political groups, is the “beginning of the road toward ending division.”

Ratification by the different factions is necessary to “protect” the deal, he said, by “cutting off the road to any attempt to obstruct it or to backtrack on it.”

Awad said he “expected that Israel and the United States will escalate their campaign against the unity agreement,” and called for all Palestinian parties to be “cautious and to insist to go forward until national unity is achieved.”

He thanked Egypt for sponsoring the unity talks, adding that the PPP party secretary-general Bassam As-Salhi will be heading the party’s delegation to Cairo.

The next steps will demand “Palestinian political will and wisdom” to take forward the “battle” for recognition of a Palestinian state to the UN Security Council, Awad added.

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine confirmed they received an invitation, saying their delegation will be headed by DFLP Secretary General Nayef Hawatmeh.

Yaser Wadeiyah, the representative of independent politicians, said the group also had an invitation and will leave for Cairo at the beginning of next week.

Secretary General of the National Reconciliation Committee Iyad As-Sarraj said ratifying the agreement will “bring the Palestinian political system back to life, based on democracy and the wellbeing of the Palestinian people.”

The Egypt ceremony will “open the door for political partnership,” he added.

The committee praised the role of the Egyptian leadership in achieving the deal, and the role of the youth, political parties and other figures, for “insisting on empowering unity and ending division,” As-Sarraj said.

The reconciliation committee has made “intensive contacts between all of the parties over the past two years to achieve reconciliation,” he noted.

Also Thursday, Hamas leader Ismail Radwan said that a final reconciliation deal would be signed in the presence of party leaders as a "practical response" to Israeli threats attempting to derail the process.

"We can best deal with the threats by signing and implementing the agreement," Radwan said in a statement which congratulated Egypt on its work in mediating the deal.

Details of the deal began to emerge Wednesday evening from Egypt, where talks were taking place between rival Hamas and Fatah factions, with reports that a technocratic government would oversee the transition to full national elections within a year of the agreement's signing.

Hamas leader in exile Khalid Mash'al and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are also expected to approve the deal at the Tuesday ceremony.

Wednesday's deal came after 18 months of fruitless talks.

Following their sweep to power in the 2006 elections, international decisions to boycott the party and an attempt to cobble together a unity government in 2007, Hamas forces clashed with Fatah and eventually split into separate governments, one in the West Bank and one in the Gaza Strip.

Several agreements were announced and later collapsed in subsequent years, with both sides reluctant to relinquish control in their respective territories.

Revolutions overthrowing unrepresentative regimes across the Middle East took root for Palestinians in a call end the rivalry, and since March 15, protesters demanding Palestinian unity came onto the streets, camped out in public squares, and held hunger strikes.

The deal-makers have had to address skepticism from the Palestinian street that the new initiative is a media stunt, and condemnation from politicians in Israel and the US.
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