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Hamas: Egypt unrest may disrupt unity talks

Dec. 5, 2012 7:56 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 10, 2012 12:00 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Meetings to discuss Palestinian reconciliation depend on stability in Egypt, a senior Hamas official said Wednesday.

Ahmad Yousef told Ma'an that unrest in Egypt could delay unity talks, mediated by Egyptian officials, as Cairo will be preoccupied with internal issues.

Islamists fought protesters outside the Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi's palace on Wednesday amid a crisis over a draft constitution that has split the country.

Israel's recent eight-day war on the Gaza Strip revitalized efforts for national unity in Palestine, with Hamas and Fatah promising to release those detained due to the political split. Fatah members who fled Gaza during factional fighting in 2007 have started returning to the enclave.

Yousef, a former adviser to Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh, said reconciliation talks were informal at this stage and official contacts have not yet been made.

Exiled Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal is expected to make his first ever visit to Gaza to attend celebrations for Hamas' 25th anniversary.

Yousef said Mashaal could arrive on Thursday or Friday.

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