1st Round Of Palestinian Reconciliation Dialogue In Cairo "Positive": Statement

Fatah, Hamas kick off reconciliation negotiations in Cairo

Fatah, Hamas kick off reconciliation negotiations in Cairo

Far from being an isolated incident, this attack represents the emergence of yet another violent militant faction in Gaza-a densely populated strip of land wedged between Israel and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, which crams 1.8 million people into an area slightly more than twice the size of Washington, D.C. This major shift toward an even more radical and violent milieu is mainly due to a growing Salafi movement in Gaza, a new phenomenon that threatens the temporary equilibrium of what is usually a turbulent area within the Middle East. Egypt has been instrumental in bringing the two sides together. The Egyptian delegation in Gaza would also help facilitate movement through the Rafah border crossing, as well as help to solve the electricity and water crises now plaguing the Strip.

Last week a ceremonial cabinet meeting with both groups was held in the Gaza strip.

In previous reconciliation attempts, Hamas and Fatah failed to reach agreements on Gaza's security arrangements.

According to the Asharq al-Awsat report, in this first round of negotiations, Hamas is aiming to reverse some of the measures enacted by the PA through the reduced funding, including those affecting thousands of Gaza government employees who had their salaries slashed or were fired.

The two sides remain sharply at odds, however, over the future of Hamas's 25,000-strong armed wing, which the terror group says is nonnegotiable. Also on board are other members of the central committee, in addition to Majid Faraj, head of Palestinian security and a close associate of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Meanwhile, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the weapons of the "resistance" - referring to the terror group's army - would not be given up until the conflict with Israel is ended.

On the eve of the handover, Hamas released five Fatah security men it jailed two years ago for what an Interior Ministry spokesman described as "actions harmful to internal security".

While acknowledging that the issue of the employees was an "obstacle", Ahmad said it would be "solved within four months". Egypt suspended its diplomatic mission in Gaza in 2007 after the Hamas takeover.

Senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri will be heading his side's delegation, with his team including Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and Moussa Abu Marzouk, who led the group's representation during reconciliation talks in the past.

"The objective of negotiations is to start implementing agreements to allow Palestine's national unity government to perform its functions in the fields of economy and security in the Gaza Strip in the same way as it happens on the West Bank of the Jordan River", Fatah spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmi told Sputnik.

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