1216 GMT January 21, 2018
“We meet in Cairo full of hope to draw and lay down a roadmap” for national reconciliation, senior Hamas delegate Izzat Reshiq said on his Twitter account of the three-day talks that began on Tuesday, presstv.com reported.
“Unity and national reconciliation among all our Palestinian people is our strategic option to move forward,” he added.
The Palestinian leadership has been divided between Fatah and Hamas since 2006, when the latter scored a landslide victory in parliamentary elections in the Gaza Strip. Hamas has ever since been running the coastal enclave, while Fatah has been based in the autonomous parts the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Previous reconciliation attempts by the two sides have failed.
In September, however, Hamas said that it had accepted key reconciliation conditions offered by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and underlined its “desire to achieve national unity.”
The resistance movement also invited the Palestinian unity government formed in 2014 to return to Gaza, dissolving an administrative committee that runs the Israeli-besieged territory as a step towards fresh national elections in Gaza and the West Bank.
The statement followed negotiations in Cairo between the movement’s officials and a delegation sent by Abbas.
On October 2, the Authority's administration, led by Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah, held its meeting in Gaza for the first time since 2014.
During the talks in Cairo, the two sides are expected to examine ways to implement a 2011 agreement brokered by Egypt, under which 3,000 Fatah security officers would join a Gaza police force over the course of a year.
Under that deal, Hamas’ 25,000-strong armed wing, Ezzedine al-Qassam, which has defended Gaza against three deadly Israeli wars over the past decade, would maintain its position. The resistance group said the force is non-negotiable.
The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas says the fate of its military wing is not up for discussion during the upcoming reconciliation talks with Fatah.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Palestinians against ‘bogus reconciliations,’ and reiterated Tel Aviv’s demand for the disbandment of Hamas’s military arm.
In an apparent attempt to influence the Cairo-brokered talks, an Israeli delegation landed in Cairo to meet with Egyptian officials, Israeli paper Ha’aretz cited Palestinian media as saying.
The delegation landed in a private plane in Cairo’s International Airport for a number of hours to meet with the officials, the reports said.