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No sign of breakthrough after Cairo unity summit

Feb. 10, 2013 2:43 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 10, 2013 9:40 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Palestinian political parties meeting in Cairo this week over reconciliation failed to reach any concrete outcomes, participants in the summit told Ma'an on Sunday.

Political leaders met in Cairo on Thursday and Friday for talks on the May 2011 deal to reunite the West Bank and Gaza, which has never been implemented.

The politicians were discussing reformulation of the PLO, which currently does not include Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and establishing a temporary government to prepare for fresh national elections and end the West Bank-Gaza division.

Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine chief Nayef Hawatmeh told Ma’an that meetings "ended without achieving any tangible progress."

A member of his politburo Rabah Muhanna was more explicit. "The Cairo meetings did not achieve anything ... they did not set a date for forming the new government nor a date for fresh elections."

"Fatah and Hamas have no real will to end the division," Muhanna said.

Meanwhile, Secretary-General of Palestinian People's Party Bassam al-Salhi told Ma'an that his faction were "expecting that after this meeting, a new government will be established, and the date of the elections will be determined. But it seems the process still needs extra effort."

Despite this, Fatah delegate Azzam al-Ahmad said progress had been made, except some points of disagreement on the elections to the PLO's parliament, the Palestinian National Council. A committee will be established to work through these issues, he said.

Contrary to the belief of the other political leaders, al-Ahmad claimed a time frame had been set for the interim government and national elections, saying they would take place after six weeks.

Palestine's envoy to Egypt Barakat al-Farra, also insisted that the talks should not be regarded as a failure.

Al-Farra pointed to the fact that the parties were able to all meet together, and democratically express their points of view, and agree on most technical issues, as an achievement.

However, analysts noted to Ma'an that this sounds hollow considering the time and money that has been poured into reconciliation talks over years, without anything to show for it.

Palestinians are bored of such summits and no longer care about them, political observers told Ma'an. They suggested a public inquiry should be launched into the huge amounts of money and travel expenses poured into such talks.

Hamas and Fatah split into separate governments in 2007.
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