Haneya: 'gaps still wide' on the eve of resuming Cairo dialogue
Published: Jun 28, 2009 09:51 AM Updated: May 25, 2011 12:49 PM

Ismail Haneya, the deposed Hamas premier in Gaza revealed on Saturday that gaps are still wide due to obstacles facing the inter-Palestinian dialogue to be resumed in Cairo on Sunday.

Leaders of Islamic Hamas movement and President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party are to resume a sixth round of inter-dialogue in Cairo on Sunday to end more than two years of political feuds between them.

The two groups announced that Hamas and Fatah delegations will be arriving in Cairo on Saturday evening. The sixth session will start in Cairo on Sunday morning, said Fatah spokesman Fahmi Za' arir in the West Bank.

Haneya told reporters as he checked Rafah border crossing between Gaza Strip and Egypt, which was partially reopened for three days, that "there are still obstacles facing the dialogue, and I hope a deal will be reached on July 7."

Palestinian officials said the two groups' negotiators will try to agree on remaining outstanding issues between them before July 7, a date was scheduled by the Egyptian mediators to sign a final reconciliation agreement.

"There are substantial unresolved issues, which can be resolved through the dialogue," Haneya reiterated. "If there will be a session on Sunday, I hope the negotiators will overcome differences and sign a deal on time."

The major outstanding issues are the elections' law, security arrangements, and the mutual political arrests in Fatah-controlled West Bank and Hamas-ruled Gaza since June 2007.

Senior Fatah negotiator Azzam el-Ahmed ruled out the two groups would be able to sign a deal in Cairo on July 7, "due to unresolved wide gaps in the two sides' position."

He added that the speech of Khaled Meshaal, the exiled Hamas leader in Damascus, on Thursday "didn't give any indication that Hamas is ready to sign a deal."

El-Ahmed revealed that there is an Egyptian proposal related to elections, which is still under discussion. "The proposal is to hold the elections on Jan. 25 next year based on the system of 75 percent proportional and 25 percent constituencies."

Asked about the joint security force in Gaza, el-Ahmed made it clear that the disagreements are still there since the start of the dialogue, saying "I hope that this issue would witness a progress in the coming round of dialogue."

Since March, the two groups held five rounds of dialogue, where they agreed on the headlines of the government, security, PLO and elections, but they still disagree on vital details.

"The third issue is related to forming a unity government abide by PLO commitments, or accepting the Egyptian proposal to form a join committee to coordinate between the two governments," said el- Ahmed.

Egypt has proposed to form a joint committee under Abbas to coordinate between Hamas government in Gaza and his government in the West Bank. The committee will work on reconstructing Gaza and prepare for elections.

"Cairo proposed to reform what had been agreed upon between Fatah and Hamas to end the rift and sign on it on July 7, and leave other issues for further discussions in the field," said el- Ahmed.

Meanwhile, Hamas leaders in Gaza said the two groups will focus during their Sunday's session on the ongoing arrests carried out by Abbas security forces against Hamas members in the West Bank.

"84 Hamas prisoners were released last week, and on Friday 44 others were released as well, except those who are suspected of harming security and stability in the West Bank," said el-Ahmed.

But Omer Abdel Razeq, a senior Hamas leader in the West Bank complained that "Abbas security forces release 40 people and at the same day arrest another 30 of Hamas members."

El-Ahmed said "the security forces are releasing Hamas members to prepare for a positive atmosphere to succeed the dialogue, while they don't mention anything about 209 Fatah members are imprisoned in Hamas jails in Gaza."

"We don't have new demands related to the unity government, the elections or the reforming of the security apparatuses, but we have stances concerning all these issues," said Abdel Razeq.

He expressed hope that the Egyptian mediators would present this time compromises and solutions to bridge the gaps mainly ending the file of political detention against Hamas members in the West Bank.

West Bank political analyst Hani el-Masri said that "all indications, "unfortunately, are not encouraging."

"Even if the parties sign on a deal on July 7, in order not to embarrass Egypt, however, implementing the deal on the ground would be so difficult amid the ongoing mutual arrests in both Gaza and West Bank and the political disputes between the two groups," said al-Masri. 

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