Report: Hamas, Fatah Agree to Release Political Prisoners

Hamas and Fatah leaders meet in Cairo to discuss implementation of Egyptian-brokered reconciliation pact signed in May.

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Leaders of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party and the Islamic Hamas movement agreed to release all political prisoners at a meeting in Cairo, WAFA news agency reported on Sunday.

Representatives of the once-rival parties met Sunday to discuss the implementation of an Egyptian-brokered reconciliation pact signed in May, an official said.

Fatah negotiator Azzam al-Ahmad, right, talking to Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil El-Araby, third right, following their meeting at the Egyptian Foreign Ministery in Cairo, Egypt, June 16, 2011.Credit: AP

The two groups also agreed to create a committee that will issue passports as well as a task force that will look into which organizations were shut down in both Gaza and the West Bank due to political fallout between the two groups, Maan News Agency reported Sunday.

The head of the Fatah delegation Azzam Al-Ahmad told Ma'an that another meeting between the two Palestinian factions is planned for the beginning of September to discuss the key issues of security and governance.
Al-Ahmad told Voice of Palestine Radio that he hoped the sides would be able to make some progress following the meeting.

Since endorsing the long-awaited reconciliation pact, the parties have been unable to agree on an interim unity government, which should prepare for new elections in 2012.

The main argument is over who should be prime minister. Fatah recommended Salam Fayyad, the current premier of the West Bank-based caretaker government, but Hamas rejected this.

It is the first session between the two rival groups since June 14. According to al-Ahmad, senior Egyptian officials will join Sunday's meeting.

"The meeting is to discuss the entire reconciliation pact, all its files and the outstanding issues. We will debate the implementation of the pact as well as removing all obstacles that obstruct implementing the pact," said al-Ahmad.

Al-Ahmad heads the Fatah delegation, while Musa Abu Marzooq, based in Damascus, is heading Hamas' representation, which includes leaders from Gaza as well.

In May 4, Fatah and Hamas signed the Egyptian-brokered reconciliation pact in Cairo. The deal ends four years of division between the two groups, which has resulted in a de facto split between the West Bank, governed by Abbas, and Gaza, ruled by Hamas.

Under the deal, the two sides agreed to form a one-year transitional government of technocrats. Its goal is to prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections and to end the blockade of Gaza.



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