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Fatah, Hamas delay unity talks

The summit was to have tackled serious issues in forming a Palestinian unity government, including naming leaders. Some observers say the delay casts doubt on the reconciliation effort.

June 19, 2011|By Ahmed Aldabba, Los Angeles Times
  • Fatah negotiator Azzam Ahmad, right, speaks to reporters after his meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Araby in Cairo last week.
Fatah negotiator Azzam Ahmad, right, speaks to reporters after his meeting… (Amr Nabil / Associated Press )

Reporting from Gaza City — A meeting between the top leaders of the Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas to discuss forming a national unity government has been postponed until further notice, a Fatah official said Sunday.

"The meeting between President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal scheduled Tuesday in Cairo has been delayed due to disagreements between both sides," Azzam Ahmed, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, told reporters in Ramallah, in the West Bank.

The summit was meant to tackle serious issues, including naming a prime minister and other officials for a new unity government.

Ahmed said Fatah and Hamas have agreed to set another date to meet. But observers said that putting off the high-profile meeting could cast doubt on the feasibility of the Egyptian-brokered reconciliation process the two sides agreed to in April.

The thorniest issue in the reconciliation discussions is naming the head of the unity government.

Fatah has nominated Salam Fayyad, who is prime minister in the current West Bank-based Palestinian Authority government, to lead the future interim government. But Hamas has rejected the proposal, accusing the Western-backed Fayyad of being "a tool in the hands of America and Israel."

In the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said in a news release that delaying the meeting reflected the serious resolve of both parties to achieve a national unity government.

He said Fatah had asked for the delay to create a better atmosphere for discussions, expressing hope that agreements signed in Cairo would be implemented soon.

Aldabba is a special correspondent.

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