Hamas, Fatah to finalize unity government talks next week

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The leaders of the recently reconciled Palestinian movements Hamas and Fatah will hold a final round of talks on the creation of a new unity government in Cairo next week, Fatah representative Azzam al-Ahmad said on Tuesday.

The leaders of the recently reconciled Palestinian movements Hamas and Fatah will hold a final round of talks on the creation of a new unity government in Cairo next week, Fatah representative Azzam al-Ahmad said on Tuesday.

"We have agreed that the talks [on the new government] will be finalized next Tuesday, on June 21, with the participation of [Palestinian Authority president and Fatah chief Mahmoud] Abbas and [Hamas leader] Khaled Mashal," Ahmad said during a news conference in the Egyptian capital.

Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement on May 4 in Cairo, ending a four-year split that began when Hamas ousted Fatah forces from the Gaza Strip in 2007. Since then, Hamas has been controlling Gaza, while Fatah's authority has been limited to the West Bank.

According to the agreement, the movements will form a technocratic government to unify national institutions in both Palestinian territories and prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections within a year.

The latest round of talks between Hamas and Fatah representatives was held in Cairo earlier on Tuesday. Ahmad acknowledged that there has been no consensus between the two movements on who should occupy the post of prime minster in a new government.

Fatah has endorsed Salam Fayyad, the current Palestinian Authority prime minister, to lead the interim government. Hamas has rejected his candidacy, suggesting that the new cabinet head should come from Gaza.

Despite obvious progress in relations between the Palestinian movements, analysts have pointed to the reluctance of Hamas and Fatah elites to share power as a major obstacle for reaching a genuine reconciliation.

An appointment of a Hamas-proposed candidate for the prime minister's office would jeopardize the Palestinian-Israeli peace process as Tel Aviv has strongly rejected any deals with a government backed by Hamas, which is considered by Israel as a terrorist organization.

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