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Hamas official cites progress at Cairo talks

Dec. 20, 2011 9:40 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 21, 2011 3:49 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- A member of the Hamas political bureau said Tuesday that attendees at a meeting to discuss reconciliation postponed the decisive issue of PLO membership until later in the week.

Izzat al-Risheq said “elections dates were discussed and agreed on forming a central elections committee. The committee is formed from one delegate from each party and they will meet tonight”.

Risheq's comments came after eight factions walked out of a meeting meant to represent all parties after being told they could not participate because they were not part of the PLO.

But the Hamas official said discussions were serious and that things are going in the right direction. Mechanisms of implementation will be discussed in the later sessions, he said.

Among the issues in which the parties made progress, he added, were problems with passports and political arrests.

"There is an understanding that it is hard to form a government before the 26th of this month, according to the demand of Fatah and (President Mahmoud) Abbas, and we respect that.

"The whole issue was postponed until after that date," he said.

Fatah and Hamas leaders were meeting with a number of political parties at the Egypt-brokered talks, but multiple factions were forbidden from taking part in talks due to their non-PLO status.

The Popular Resistance Movement, the Popular Resistance Committees, the al-Ahrar Movement, Fatah al-Intifada, as-Saiqa and the Popular Struggle Front were excluded, sources at the talks said.

“The insistence by Fatah to exclude eight Palestinian factions from reconciliation dialogue ... casts doubt upon Fatah’s attitude to reconciliation," a statement from the PRM said.

"Such an attitude only maintains a state of disagreement."

The reconciliation accord aims to unite the parties after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, a year after winning national elections.

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