Palestinian elections officials are due to arrive in the Gaza Strip on Monday, ahead of joint Fatah-Hamas elections which the sides envision taking place later this year, and which serve as a centerpiece for the floundering Palestinian reconciliation deal.
The planned arrival of the PA's central elections' committee, geared at preparing a voters' list for the planned elections, is one result of a meeting between Hamas and Fatah officials in Cairo last week, in which the rival groups said they agreed on a new timetable for a power-sharing deal.
Reconciliation efforts have stalled repeatedly, and it remains to be seen if these latest developments, brokered by Egypt, would end the ongoing impasse.
The Islamic militant Hamas seized Gaza from Fatah's leader, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, in 2007, leaving him with only the West Bank. A unity deal was reached earlier this year but hung up over disagreements over whether Abbas should head an interim government that prepares for elections.
At least partially responsible for that deal's undoing was the opposition by Hamas' Gaza leadership to the possibility of Abbas being named prime minister of the new government.
However, it seems that both talks in Cairo and their possible ratification in the arrival of elections official in Gaza, point at a change in Hamas' leadership, the motivation of which is not yet clear.
Speaking after last week's meeting, Azzam Ahmed of Fatah and Fawzi Barhoum of Hamas said the sides agreed that the interim government should be formed by the first week of June and remain in office for six months.
Fatah, which controls the West Bank, and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, have been attempting to implement a reconciliation agreement brokered by Egypt and signed last year in Cairo. That agreement included the formation of a unity government and the holding of elections in May 2012.
Israel has rejected the agreement, refusing to negotiate with a government involving Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel.
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