Ignoring elephant in the room, Hamas-Fatah talks advance with Egyptian help

Reconciliation talks between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah are for now ignoring the thorny issue of the future of the terror group’s military wing and weaponry, and with the help of Egypt are concentrating first on asserting the Palestinian Authority’s power in the Gaza Strip, including control over the border with Egypt, according to statements by officials and Arabic media reports.

On Wednesday, Azzam al-Ahmad, the official leading the Fatah faction’s delegation, told the Pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat that “Egypt has made unprecedented efforts towards the reconciliation…due to the changing regional and international political stances.”

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has thrown his weight behind the talks, saying last week that Palestinian reconciliation is “preparation for a just peace between Palestinian and Israeli sides.”

The talks began in the headquarters of the Egyptian intelligence in Cairo on Tuesday and will last for two-three days, a Fatah spokesperson said.

On Tuesday, Ahmad said “empowering the government in Gaza” would be the main point of the current talks.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Azzam al-Ahmad (C) of the mainstream Fatah movement walks to a meeting with a Hamas delegation at a hotel in Cairo following reconciliation talks on September 24, 2014 in the Egyptian capital. (photo credit AFP/Khaled Desouki)

The Palestinian daily al-Quds reported on Wednesday that Egypt presented each side with 22 items for dealing with this stage of the reconciliation process, including a US-backed international conference in the Egyptian town Sharm el-Sheikh, with a regional presence.

The Egyptians reportedly also proposed a new round of talks in Cairo in a month, which would be followed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas…

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