Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas addresses the Palestinian leadership on November 16, in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal will meet in Cairo this week despite the unrest rocking Egypt, Hamas and Fatah officials said on Tuesday. © Abbas Momani - AFP
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas
AFP
Last updated: November 22, 2011

Abbas and Meshaal to meet in Cairo despite Egypt unrest

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal will meet in Cairo this week despite the unrest rocking Egypt, Hamas and Fatah officials said on Tuesday.

Egypt has been shaken in recent days by renewed protests calling for the ruling military council to step aside and allow an interim civilian government to take power.

But officials of the rival Palestinian movements said the unrest would not derail a planned meeting between Meshaal and Abbas later this week.

The talks will go ahead "as scheduled on Thursday," Hamas official Ismail Radwan told AFP in Gaza, in remarks which were confirmed by senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed.

The two leaders are due to finalise details of a reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas which was signed in May but has yet to be implemented.

The deal called for the immediate formation of an interim government to pave the way for presidential and parliamentary elections within a year.

But implementation of the agreement has stalled, with the two sides failing to agree on the make-up of the caretaker government and, in particular, who will head it.

Abbas has reportedly insisted on keeping prime minister Salam Fayyad, in a demand repeatedly rejected by Hamas.

But Radwan said the idea of Fayyad heading the new government "has been ruled out already, and now we are talking about consensus principles to allow the selection of someone to head the government in line with the reconciliation deal."

Both factions reportedly have preferred candidates and Radwan said Hamas would submit its list of names "if we are asked to do so," while indicating "the first priority is agree on a capable nationalist figure."

He refused to confirm reports that Hamas would agree to implement a year-long truce with Israel.

"There is no discussion about the management of the fight against the occupation, but the issue is subject to national agreement (between all factions) before and after the formation of the government," he said.

Radwan said a senior delegation of Gaza-based Hamas leaders, including Khalil al-Hayya and Nizar Awadallah, would leave for Cairo on Wednesday where they would be party to the talks between Abbas and Meshaal.

Abbas was to arrive in Cairo later on Tuesday and meet with the head of Egypt's ruling council, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, on Wednesday, Ahmed said.

A follow-up meeting involving "all the Palestinian factions" would take place next month, he said, adding that details would be announced after the Hamas-Fatah leadership talks.

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