CAIRO: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was in Egypt on Tuesday for talks with President Hosni Mubarak after a reconciliation meeting with the Islamist Hamas movement was put on hold.
Fatah completely supported the Egyptian proposal… but then Hamas put down obstacles to achieving a reconciliation, Abbas told reporters in Cairo, in the latest salvo in a war of words with Gaza s rulers.
Egypt has been struggling for months to broker a reconciliation agreement between the two main Palestinian factions.
Fatah has signed a draft accord drawn up by Egypt but Hamas has repeatedly postponed its official response, saying that it needs more time to consider the deal.
We don t want to say that we have completely stopped moving forward on the reconciliation issue. What we are concerned about is the unity of our people, Abbas said.
He again warned that agreement needs to be reached by Sunday in order for him to set a date for parliamentary and presidential elections in accordance with Palestinian law.
The elections would normally fall due by January 25 but the Egyptian draft proposes holding the elections on June 28 and would require Abbas to issue a decree before the weekend to override that procedure.
We are forced, according to the constitution, to announce before October 25 the date of elections so that elections are held before next January 25, Abbas said.
He issued a similar warning last week, saying that if Hamas did not agree to the Egyptian plan in time, he would call elections for January 24.
In the last parliamentary elections in 2006, Hamas won an upset victory over Fatah.
Relations between the two factions deteriorated sharply in the aftermath and in summer 2007 Hamas ousted Fatah from Gaza leaving the Palestinian territories effectively divided between rival administrations.
Reconciliation between the two is seen as vital to any resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. -AFP