Palestinian divisions persist as Cairo talks end

Agence France Presse

Published — Sunday 10 February 2013

Last update 10 February 2013 8:31 pm

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CAIRO: Palestinian factions meeting in Cairo wrapped up two days of talks aimed at reconciling the rival Hamas and Fatah late on Saturday although divisions remained over how exactly to apply the deal, an official said.
The talks, which began on Friday, were held under the umbrella of the provisional governing body of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
“We agreed with Hamas to start consultations with the Palestinian factions about the formation of a government of technocrats led by President (Mahmud) Abbas under terms of the Doha Agreement,” Fatah delegation chief Azzam Al-Ahmad told reporters, referring to a deal between Hamas and Fatah nearly a year ago.
“There was agreement over most of the questions, except several points concerning the election law for the (Palestinian) National Council,” he said of the PLO’s sprawling legislature.
PLO Executive Committee member Wassel Abu Yussef had earlier on Saturday said that the main points of dispute were over the way elections were held for the PNC, as well as other issues relating to legislative and presidential elections in the Palestinian territories.
He also said there was disagreement over the timing of the establishment of a caretaker cabinet, which is supposed to prepare for new elections, and the announcement of a date for such a poll.
“Fatah wants the government formed at the same time as a decree setting the date for elections,” Abu Yussef said.
“Hamas wants the government to be formed first to end the division before the date of elections is decided.”
Maher Al-Taher, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine delegation, agreed there would need to be more talks to iron out differences of opinion.
“The atmosphere was positive but we need another meeting to sort out some interpretations and differences in point of view,” he told reporters.
Another point of dispute is the type of voting system to be used, officials said.
Fatah and independent figures in the PLO provisional governing body want the same system to apply for the PNC and parliament, whereas Hamas wants proportional representation within the Palestinian National Council.
The Islamist movement which rules Gaza wants a breakdown of 75 percent proportional representation for polling in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the rest under a one-person, one-vote system.
The Cairo talks were convened by Abbas, whose Fatah faction signed a reconciliation deal with Hamas in April 2011 aimed at ending years of rivalry, but which has never been properly implemented.
The PLO provisional governing council met in Cairo for the first time in December 2011. It groups PLO leaders and the heads of groups currently under its umbrella, as well as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and independent personalities.
Last week, Hamas authorized the Central Elections Commission to start registering voters in the Gaza Strip, removing a major obstacle to reconciliation with Fatah.
The CEC said voter registration will be carried out from February 11 to 18.

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