Hamas and Fatah delegations met in Cairo on Sunday to discuss ways to implement the Palestinian reconciliation agreement the two factions signed in late April.
Fatah Central Committee member Azzam Al-Ahmad represented Ramallah's interest, while those of Gaza Strip were represented by Hamas Politburo Deputy Chief Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk.
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Following a lengthy meeting, the parties agreed on the bilateral release of all political prisoners held in Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The move is considered a gesture of good will on both parts.
Hamas and Fatah also agreed to form a joint committee to supervise the reinstatement of joint institutions – the majority of which were shut down after Hamas' takeover of Gaza Strip.
Another committee agreed on during the meeting will issue Palestinian passports.
Both parties agreed to meet again in early September to discuss the future unity government and various security issues.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zahri described the agreement as "important, because it is a reassuring message to the Palestinian people, and it reflects the seriousness of both parties in implementing it."
Rocky road ahead?
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal were scheduled to meet in Cairo in June, but "technical difficulties" prevented the meeting from taking place.
The Palestinian factions have been encountering difficulties translating their historic reconciliation – which the West eyes with concern and many analysts believe was put in place simply to propel the PA's September bid for statehood in the UN – into de facto results on the ground.
Ahead of Sunday's meeting, Fatah official Sakhr Bssisso said that the coming series of Cairo talks would focus on "implementing all aspects of the reconciliation deal," including those concerning installing a new unity government – which has been one of the main hurdles delaying the deal.
Hamas' Zahri added that Gaza's rulers were "serious in wanting to implement the agreement as soon as possible," but conceded to the fact that the make-up of the new Palestinian government – and mainly its future premier – was still the main hurdle.
Fatah insists on keeping current PM Salam Fayyad in office, while Hamas would like to name one of its own, or at the very least replace Fayyad.
Meanwhile, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas reiterated his call for a government of independents, following an Amman meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II.
"We have said more than once the Palestinian government that we want to form is not a national unity or coalition government," Abbas was quoted as saying by Jordan's state-run Petra news agency.
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