Palestinian reconciliation talks begin in Cairo

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh speak during an event in Gaza City. (File photo/AP)
Updated 21 November 2017
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Palestinian reconciliation talks begin in Cairo

GAZA CITY: Two-day talks between Palestinian factions began on Tuesday in Cairo, complementing Egyptian efforts to achieve intra-Palestinian reconciliation and restore the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) control of the Gaza Strip.
Delegations from 13 factions from Gaza, the West Bank and the diaspora arrived in Egypt on Monday.
Issues on the agenda include forming a new government, holding elections, reforming the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and deploying PA security forces in Gaza.
Deputy chairman of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, Fayez Abu Eita, said the dialogue will include enabling the Palestinian government to work freely in Gaza and unify its governance with that of the West Bank.
“There will be bilateral meetings sponsored by Egypt between Hamas and Fatah to complete the discussions,” he told Arab News.
“There’s a delay in the timetable for extending government control in Gaza. The timetable will certainly be amended.”
On Oct. 12, Fatah and Hamas signed an agreement in Cairo to begin implementing Palestinian reconciliation according to a specific timetable.
As part of the deal, Hamas has handed over ministries and crossings in Gaza to the PA in Ramallah. But deployment of PA security forces at Gaza’s border crossings has yet to take place.
Hamas leader Ghazi Hamad told Arab News: “The discussions will focus on all the issues in accordance with the timetable set by the Egyptian leadership, which is sponsoring the reconciliation agreement.”
He added: “Issues of government empowerment will be discussed, along with other major issues, but it will take time to implement them.”
Political writer Hani Habib said he doubts the dialogue will achieve a breakthrough due to the factions’ different agendas and priorities.
“I think there will be strong Egyptian intervention in light of the apparent differences, in order to put forward a working paper that represents a compromise, and pressure on the Palestinian factions to agree to it, as happened at the Fatah and Hamas meeting in October,” he told Arab News.


Fresh protests in Iraq as medics raise death toll to 11

Updated 40 min 59 sec ago
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Fresh protests in Iraq as medics raise death toll to 11

  • Security forces remained deployed around the capital Baghdad
  • Overall medical sources put the death toll in the unrest at 11 people

BAGHDAD: Fresh protests hit southern Iraq Sunday as medical sources put at 11 the number of demonstrators killed in two weeks of unrest sparked by ire over corruption and lack of public services.
Security forces remained deployed around the capital Baghdad after struggling Friday to disperse crowds of angry protesters who took to the streets.
Demonstrations have roiled swathes of southern and central Iraq since erupting in the oil-rich port city of Basra on July 8, when security forces opened fire killing one person.
Overall medical sources put the death toll in the unrest at 11 people, three in each of the cities Basra, Samawah and Najaf, and one in both the cities of Diwaniyah and Karbala.
Most of them were killed by gunfire from unidentified assailants, while one person suffocated to death on tear gas used to disperse the demonstrators.
Protesters on Sunday took to the streets in the cities of Samawah and Nasiriyah, chanting “no to corruption,” a scourge Iraqis say has long blighted their country.
Since the start of the demonstrations those involved have focused their anger on the political establishment, with government buildings and party offices being sacked or set ablaze.
The Iraqi authorities have scrambled to halt the unrest and have blocked social media sites online to try to prevent the spread of protests.
Iraq is in a state of political limbo with Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi overseeing a caretaker government as wrangling to form a new government drags on after elections in May.
A coalition headed by populist cleric Moqtada Sadr topped the polls, campaigning on an anti-graft ticket to claim the most seats in parliament.