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Fatah proposes unity government plan to Hamas

Jan. 8, 2014 6:43 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 17, 2014 7:23 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Fatah reconciliation team has made a proposal to Hamas regarding a national unity government, a Fatah spokesman told Ma'an Wednesday.

The proposal stipulates that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas set dates for new presidential and legislative elections, Osama al-Qawasmeh said.

Al-Qawasmeh told Ma'an that the head of Fatah's reconciliation team, Azzam al-Ahmad, informed Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of the proposal via telephone call on Tuesday.

Haniyeh requested time to discuss the proposal with other Hamas officials, Qwasmeh said, adding that al-Ahmad is arranging to visit Gaza to meet with Hamas leaders.

Qawasmeh said the phone call was made upon direct instruction from Abbas.

The proposal came as Hamas released seven Fatah prisoners who were in Gaza jails for "security reasons."

Gaza Interior Ministry spokesman Ibrahim Salah said he hoped Fatah would make a similar gesture in the West Bank.

Around 20 members of Fatah remain imprisoned in the Gaza Strip, a Fatah spokesman told Ma'an, also Wednesday.

Fayez Abu Atia said that the release of seven Fatah members was positive, but that Fatah wanted all of its jailed members released.

Abu Atia said the release of prisoners would ease the suffering of families who were hurt as a result of the division between the two factions.

"We want Hamas to positively respond to Fatah's proposal to hold elections," he added.

On Monday, AFP reported Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh as saying that "The (Hamas) government will allow all Fatah members who are from Gaza and who left the Strip (in 2007) to return, without any preconditions," apart from those accused of killing Hamas members during intense factional fighting that year.

The division between the two Palestinian factions began in 2006, when Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections.

In the following year, clashes erupted between Fatah and Hamas, leaving Hamas in control of the Strip and Fatah in control of parts of the occupied West Bank.

The groups have made failed attempts at national reconciliation for years, most recently in 2012, when they signed two agreements -- one in Cairo and a subsequent one in Doha -- which have as of yet been entirely unimplemented.
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