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Palestinian Authority to 'release Hamas detainees'

Nov. 25, 2012 10:06 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 27, 2012 2:16 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority will release Hamas-affiliated detainees as a goodwill gesture to boost reconciliation efforts, a PLO official said Sunday, after Hamas announced similar measures earlier.

Nabil Shaath told Ma'an that preparations will begin in the coming days to release dozens of Hamas prisoners held for political reasons, adding that the PA has already recently released a large number of Hamas-affiliated detainees.

Hamas representatives will also begin to participate in leadership meetings in the West Bank, including sessions of the executive committee of the PLO, Shaath added.

"They are part of the Palestinian people, and they will be consulted in political issues," he said.

Further reconciliation talks are expected in Cairo after the Nov. 29 UN bid to build a unity government and prepare for elections.

All unresolved issues related to public sector employees will also be discussed, and factions will try to build a "political map for the future", Shaath said.

The Fatah leader also revealed that President Abbas will visit the Gaza Strip, although no date has been arranged yet.

Earlier Sunday, Hamas indicated that they would free prisoners affiliated to Fatah, giving further momentum to reconciliation efforts since Israel's war on the coastal enclave.

Government spokesman Taher al-Nunu said the government would grant an amnesty to all suspects and prisoners related to its conflict with Fatah in 2006.

The parties fought bitterly after Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006, splitting into separate governments in Gaza and the West Bank a year later.

Reconciliation talks have repeatedly stumbled, but Israel's eight-day war on the Gaza Strip which ended Wednesday gave political impetus to ending the division.
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