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Fatah, Hamas to discuss unity government Sunday

Feb. 7, 2013 8:38 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 8, 2013 8:46 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Fatah and Hamas officials will meet in Cairo on Sunday to discuss the composition of a unity government, Hamas official Izzat al-Rishq said Thursday.

Leaders of the major Palestinian parties are already in the Egyptian capital ahead of series of meeting designed to hammer out the details of the long-stalled 2011 reconciliation agreement.

A joint government to oversee fresh elections and reunite the West Bank and Gaza is a key component of the deal.

The last proposal for a joint government, in February 2012, soon fell apart after Hamas officials in Gaza refused to accept that Fatah leader President Mahmoud Abbas take the prime minister position.

Now, Hamas officials say they are on board with Abbas' premiership, but in a hint of further disputes Hamas official Ahmad Yousef said Thursday that the party does not agree with the original proposal that the cabinet is composed of technocrats.

Fatah and Hamas officials should take roles in the interim government to give it the appropriate weight, he said.

PLO reform

On Friday, the parties are meeting to discuss PLO reform, another key component of the unity deal.

The meeting will discuss the system of the elections to the PLO's parliament, and the composition of a supervisory committee, al-Rishq said.

Meanwhile, a group called the Global Palestinian Right to Return Coalition welcomed recent meetings and initiatives and said it hoped that they would preserve the political and geographic unity of the Palestinian people.

"We hope these steps will empower Palestinians with the political and national will to overcome all obstacles and elevate our national work so that it may be deserving of the sacrifices and struggle of our great people," the group said in a statement.

However, the coalition warned that the most critical issue is the re-activation and revitalization of the PLO, and the need to hold direct elections to the Palestinian National Council where all eligible Palestinians, inside and outside the homeland, can vote.

The group insisted that the Palestinian Legislative Council remain part of the PNC in order to preserve the unity of the Palestinian people, and that all Palestinian be able to vote wherever they reside.
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