Arab League could host Palestinian unity talks

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CAIRO: The Arab League is willing to host Palestinian reconciliation talks, Secretary General Amr Moussa said on Tuesday after a meeting with Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar in Cairo.

"The Arab League is willing to host any Palestinian meetings to push forward national reconciliation efforts," Moussa told reporters.

"There is no justification whatsoever for the continued Palestinian division," he said, stressing the need to "unify Palestinian ranks ahead the current challenges."

Officials from Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement and its rival Islamist group Hamas held talks on Saturday in a bid to restart reconciliation talks.

The two have been at loggerheads since 2007 when Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip, routing Abbas loyalists.

In Cairo, Zahar said that another meeting would be held in Gaza "in the coming two days" with Fatah members.

Egypt has in the past hosted several rounds of Palestinian reconciliation talks but with no success.

Egypt "does not want to sponsor talks that would end in failure and we understand that," Zahar said.

The Arab League will therefore "host the talks for a defined time period until an agreement is reached, which will be announced in Cairo", Zahar said.

Gaza has been effectively cut off from the West Bank, which is under the control of Fatah, and repeated attempts at reconciliation have led nowhere.

The disunity of the Palestinians has prevented them from taking a common stance in peace talks with Israel, which are now off the table.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians took to the streets of Gaza and the West Bank last week to demand that the two factions end their long-running rivalry.


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