Wed, Sep 30, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Hamas, Fatah edge closer

AP , CAIRO

Hamas’ exiled political leader said on Monday that the militant group has agreed in principle to a proposal for reconciling with its rivals in the Fatah movement in a deal that would clear the way for new presidential and legislative elections.

A final deal being brokered by Egyptian mediators will be drawn up and signed next month, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal told reporters in Cairo after talks with Egypt’s intelligence chief.

The Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers and Fatah, which runs the West Bank, have been divided since a civil war more than two years ago.

Bringing the sides together and restoring some Fatah control in the Gaza Strip could open up the blockaded seaside territory to more aid from international donors that had shunned dealings with Hamas.

Egypt has been trying for months to broker such a deal, at first by proposing the formation of a unity government. Hamas, however, refused to be part of any Palestinian government that would involve the recognition of Israel.

Now, Egypt is proposing to bring the rivals together in an advisory committee that would have a say in running day-to-day affairs in Gaza and the West Bank until elections can be held sometime in the first half of next year.

The committee would be headed by Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, who is also the Palestinian president. Abbas’ government would deploy 3,000 security personnel to Gaza and both sides would release each other’s detainees.

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