, CAIRO, Nov 24 – Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal on Thursday hailed a new Palestinian “partnership” after talks to implement a landmark reconciliation deal.
“We want to assure our people and the Arab and Islamic world that we have turned a major new and real page in partnership on everything do to with the Palestinian nation,” Meshaal said.
“There are no more differences between us now,” added Abbas, who heads the Fatah movement. “We have agreed to work as partners with joint responsibility.”
The leaders spoke after two hours of face-to-face talks in Cairo, the first since they inked the reconciliation deal in May.
The deal was hailed as the beginning of the end of years of bitter rivalry between the Palestinian movements, which boiled over in 2007, when Hamas took control of Gaza a year after winning a surprise electoral victory.
But implementation of the agreement, which called for a transitional government of independents to pave the way for elections within a year, has proved tricky.
The composition of the temporary government, and who would head it, has proven particularly contentious, with Abbas seeking to keep on his current prime minister Salam Fayyad, over objections from Hamas.
Successive rounds of talks between lower-level officials failed to move the process forward, but earlier this month Fatah negotiator Azzam al-Ahmed confirmed he had held secret discussions with his Hamas counterpart Mussa Abu Marzuq.
Ahmed said the talks had produced broad agreement on the principles for choosing a consensus government, though reports have suggested there is continuing disagreement about its composition.
No announcement has so far been made on candidates for the prime minister’s post, and Ahmed said the names were likely to be discussed at a later stage, possibly when the factions meet in December.
Other issues being discussed at the talks included a restructuring of factions’ rival security forces, as well as changes to the Palestine Liberation Organisation, which does not currently include Hamas.