Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met the head of Hamas’s political bureau, Khaled Mashaal, in Cairo on Wednesday in yet another attempt to push through a Fatah-Hamas unity agreement.
The first unity deal between the rival Palestinian factions was signed nearly two years ago but so far no concrete steps have been taken towards genuine joint-leadership.
In recent weeks there has been a rapprochement between the sides: Hamas has authorised Fatah members to hold a large rally in Gaza City and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority allowed Hamas to celebrate the anniversary of its foundation at events in West Bank cities.
The gradual warming in the relations prepared the ground for this week’s meeting under the auspices of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who has been trying to get the two sides to implement the agreement.
The deal includes new elections, to be held in the West Bank and Gaza, following which a joint government will be formed with smaller, regional administrations in Ramallah and the Strip.
In a television interview this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cited the ongoing negotiations between Fatah and Hamas as a reason why the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is stuck.