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Unity committees to tackle reconciliation issues

Aug. 8, 2011 3:56 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 10, 2011 10:32 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Fatah parliamentary deputy Ashraf Jomah said Monday that four committees would begin work next week on outstanding areas in the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas.

Jomah told Ma'an that the committees would tackle prisoners, passports, social reconciliation and the institutions shut down in Gaza and the West Bank following the 2007 infighting that divided the Palestinian territories under separate governments.

The commissioners on the committees would be finalized in the next week, as well as the mechanism for their work, Jomah said.

Each issue will be completed before the next meeting between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo, to be held in early September, the official underlined.

The former rival factions announced that progress was made on the issue of political prisoners in jail in the West Bank and Gaza after a Sunday meeting between the delegations in Cairo.

Current estimates put the number of Hamas members imprisoned in the West Bank at 70, while 37 Fatah-affiliates are detained in the Gaza Strip.

Jomah told Ma'an that a mechanism would be set by the factions to issue every Palestinian with a passport.

Gaza residents have complained that tens of thousands of them have been unable to get passports issued by the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority because of factional tensions, stopping them from leaving the blockaded coastal enclave.

The parties brought a formal end to division by agreeing a reconciliation deal in Cairo on May 4, but implementation of several facets of the deal have been held up by ongoing tensions.

A unity government of independent figures has been delayed because of a leadership row. Hamas rejected Fatah's nomination of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to lead the new government.

The PA announced in July that it would hold municipal elections in the West Bank in October, and blamed Hamas for blocking efforts to prepare for the vote in Gaza.

But Sunday's meeting was described as "very successful" by Fatah delegation head Azzam Al-Ahmad, while Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the agreements on prisoners reflected "the seriousness of both parties in implementing it."
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