No deal in Fatah and Hamas unity meeting

No deal in Fatah and Hamas unity meeting

No deal in Fatah and Hamas unity meeting

Palestinian President Abbas (2nd L) and Hamas chief Mashaal (2nd R) speak at a ceremony in this May 2011 photo. Unity talks in Cairo ended without a deal. AP photo

A Cairo meeting between Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal and an official of the rival Fatah movement made no headway on the formation of a Palestinian national unity government, an official said yesterday.

Two hours of talks on May 2 night in the Egyptian capital produced “nothing new,” the Palestinian official told Agence France-Presse, speaking on condition of anonymity. Mashaal and his deputy Mussa Abu Marzuk discussed with senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed “the possibility of advancing the reconciliation process, in particular a government of national unity, but the meeting produced nothing new,” the official said.

‘Hamas holds secret talks with EU countries’
The meeting was a bid to follow up on an agreement reached in Doha on February 6 between Mashaal and Palestinian president and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas on the formation of an interim government of independents. Under the deal, Abbas was to serve as head of the interim government. Meanwhile, a senior Hamas official told The Associated Press that Hamas has been holding secret political talks with five EU member states in recent months. In Gaza, three Hamas officials said Britain, France and the Netherlands are among the countries involved in backchannel talks.

Two also mentioned Austria, and one added Sweden to the list. The officials said talks have been held in Gaza, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey. Officials in Britain, France, Austria and the Netherlands denied their governments are conducting talks with Hamas. Beirut-based Hamas official Osama Hamdan said European officials keep bringing up the issue of recognition of Israel in backchannel talks, but that Hamas won’t budge.

The EU and the U.S consider Hamas a terror group and refuse to deal with it unless it renounces violence and recognizes Israel. Hamdan said he believes the changes in the region, with its resurgence of Islamist movements, have prompted some European countries to review their policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including Hamas.