fatah rally
A rally marking the 48th anniversary of the founding of the Fatah movement, in Gaza, ruled since 2007 by Hamas, which is hostile to the rival party. Photo by Reuters
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Fatah and Hamas are divided partly by their attitude toward diplomacy. Photo by AFP

Fatah and Hamas have postponed reconciliation talks, Hamas officials said Wednesday.

“I believe the recent trading of accusations between the two sides led to the postponement,” said a Hamas leader, Ahmed Yousef, regarding Wednesday’s scheduled Cairo talks.

Another possible reason he suggested was the planned visit by U.S. President Barack Obama in March to Israel and the West Bank. Both sides may first want to learn about the consequences of that visit, he said.

Yousef said the talks had not been intended to be “decisive or strategic, but just a meeting to prepare for another meeting that might be held after Obama’s visit to the region.”

The two Palestinian movements have been at loggerheads for years despite mediation attempts by Egypt and other Arab countries.

Hamas won a 2006 election and formed a unity government with Fatah, but the government fell apart in June 2007 after Hamas routed Fatah forces loyal to Abbas.

The most recent mediation attempt was a Qatar-sponsored initiative last year that called for a unity government headed by Abbas to prepare for Palestinian presidential and parliamentary elections.