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Hamas to respond to Palestinian reconciliation plan on Sunday

RIA Novosti


CAIRO, October 18 (RIA Novosti) - A delegation of the Islamist movement Hamas will pay a visit to Egypt on Sunday to submit its final response on the Egypt-brokered reconciliation pact, a senior Hamas member told the MENA news agency.

In early September, Cairo put forward a new document to reconcile the two largest Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah, which split in June 2007 when Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip and pushed the Fatah movement out of the enclave. The six previous rounds of reconciliation talks had resulted in failure.

"The delegation will be led by deputy head of Hamas' political bureau, Moussa Abu Marzuk," Salah Bardawil said.

Ahmed Yousef, a Hamas deputy foreign minister, said the response came after lengthy internal consultations.

"Hamas has never opposed the Egyptian document, but the movement needed additional time to clarify some paragraphs," he said.

The document envisions general elections to be held in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in the first half of 2010, a reform of Palestinian security services under the Egyptian control and the release of political prisoners by both factions.

Local Palestinian and some Western media reports said on Wednesday that Fatah already signed the reconciliation pact, while Hamas asked for a delay in the signing of the document.

Armed clashes between Fatah and Hamas came some 18 months after Hamas had won Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006. Fatah has renounced violence, while Hamas refuses to recognize Israel and reserves the right to use violence in its struggle to create a Palestinian state.

Reconciliation talks resumed after Israel's assault on Gaza at the turn of the year, which saw some 1,300 Palestinians killed and 5,000 injured.

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