Hamas leaders in Gaza release 6 imprisoned members of Abbas’ Fatah party as goodwill gesture to form Palestinian unity gov’t.
The Hamas government in Gaza announced late Monday it released six imprisoned members of the West Bank-based Fatah party. A statement by the interior ministry of the coastal enclave also said Hamas hopes the goodwill gesture will be reciprocated by Ramallah.
The announcement came after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas convened with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Doha in the first meeting since their rival movements signed a surprise unity deal last month.
The meeting began at 0900 GMT shortly after Abbas held talks with Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, a senior Palestinian official told AFP in Ramallah.
“Abbas and Meshaal held a long meeting this afternoon in Doha to discuss the latest Palestinian developments, including the reconciliation agreement and creating a positive atmosphere in which to achieve it,” a Hamas statement said.
“The meeting was positive, with both leaders expressing a serious willingness to turn over a new leaf, based on national partnership,” it added.
The exiled Hamas chief has been based in Doha for more than two years after leaving his previous base in Damascus because of the Syrian civil war.
The last time the two leaders met face-to-face was in Cairo in January 2013.
Abbas’s Fatah movement, which dominates the Palestine Liberation Organisation, has been locked in years of bitter rivalry with Meshaal’s Hamas since the Islamist movement forcibly took over the Gaza Strip in 2007, confining Abbas’s forces to the West Bank.
Earlier reconciliation efforts have failed, but on April 23, the PLO and Hamas announced a deal under which they would work together to form a new government of political independents.
Hamas said it might incorporate some 3,000 members of the Palestinian Authority’s security forces to help police Gaza on a temporary basis.
“There is a clause addressing the security situation, including… administrative arrangements for 3,000 members of Ramallah’s security apparatus to work as part of Gaza security,” Hamas government secretary Abdel Salam Siyyam said in a statement on Sunday.
He said the move would be for an “interim period,” without saying how long it would be.
News of the April deal provoked an angry response from Israel, which said it would not negotiate with any Palestinian government backed by Hamas, putting the final nail in the coffin of the latest round of US-brokered peace talks.
Palestinian Authority to send 3,000 policemen to Gaza
Prior to the meeting, the PA announced it would send some 3,000 of its policemen from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip as the first move toward implementing the decision to form the joint government.
A statement to that effect was made by Abd al-Salam Siyam, secretary-general of the Gaza government’s cabinet, and reported by the independent Palestinian Ma’an news agency.
The police officers worked in Gaza before the PA was ousted from the coastal enclave in 2007.
“Hamas and the Gaza government have made a strategic decision to move on with reconciliation and so they will do what is needed to implement the agreement,” Siyam’s statement added.
In a bid to ensure that the April 23 agreement would be implemented, Qatar donated $5 million to the Gaza government to support Palestinian reconciliation.
Ismail Radwan, the Gaza government’s minister of endowment, told reporters Sunday that the money was intended for families who lost relatives to the Fatah-Hamas conflict.
Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh spoke to Qatar Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani via telephone to ask for financial support, Radwan said.
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