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Hamas frees 10 Fatah men as talks begin

Barghuti said the sides would discuss “forming a national consensus government and holding elections,” among other issues.

Source : Agencies / 22 Apr 2014

A senior Cairo-based Hamas official crossed on Monday from Egypt into the Gaza Strip ahead of a new attempt to reconcile the movement and its Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) rivals.

Mussa Abu Marzuq, head of external affairs in the movement’s political office, entered the Hamas-ruled coastal strip through the Rafah frontier crossing.

An official of the PLO, which is headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and dominated by his Fatah movement, said a PLO delegation was expected to arrive in Gaza from its West Bank headquarters on Wednesday or Thursday for talks with Hamas.Independent Palestinian MP Mustafa Barghuti told AFP that his fellow delegates were Fatah’s Azzam Al Ahmad, Bassam Al Salhi of the socialist Palestine People’s Party, businessman Munib Al Masri and Arab Palestinian Front leader Jamil Shehadeh.

Barghuti said the sides would discuss “forming a national consensus government and holding elections,” among other issues.

Gaza interior ministry said 10 Fatah members imprisoned for “breaches of public order” were freed on Monday “as a goodwill gesture to support national reconciliation efforts.”

Immediately on arrival, Abu Marzuq met Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, the premier’s office said.

Longtime tensions between Hamas and Fatah boiled over in a week of fighting in 2007 that left the Islamist movement in control of Gaza and effectively divided the Palestinian territories in two.

The two sides have made repeated attempts to heal the rift, including an Egyptian-brokered deal in 2011 in which they agreed to make way for an interim government of independents to organise fresh elections throughout the territories. The agreement has never been implemented.

On Sunday night, Abbas briefed Nabil Al Arabi, Secretary-General of the Arab League, on the latest developments in the peace process and the status after Israeli intransigence.

The Palestine News Agency, WAFA, said the two had a telephone conversation.

It said that Arabi reasserted the Arab League’s support for the Palestinian position and hard-to-provide various forms of support and assistance.

Abbas also discussed developments of the peace process and the stalled negotiations with Israel during a telephone conversation with Nabil Fahmy, Egypt’s foreign minister.

Fahmy said that Egypt supported the Palestinian position and intended to provide all forms of support.

Also on Monday, Israel launched several airstrikes on the central Gaza Strip, injuring two people, Hamas said in a statement. Israeli army said the raids were an answer to Palestinian fighters in Gaza, who they said fired seven rockets into Israel earlier in the day.

Palestinian media quoted Gaza’s Ministry of Interior as saying that Israeli warplanes targeted a security facility in the Al Nuseirat refugee camp, injuring two security officers.

Another airstrike in a livestock farm caused material damage but no injuries, while a third strike targeted an open area in Deir Al Balah.

The ministry said Israeli warplanes also struck a target in Khan Younis.

Israel’s military said in a statement that “a short while ago, IAF aircraft targeted two terror activity sites in the southern Gaza Strip and a third site in the central Gaza Strip, in response to the latest severe aggression emanating from Gaza. Direct hits were confirmed.”

 

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