DAKAR (AFP) – The Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, at loggerheads since the Islamist Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip last year, have sent emissaries to Dakar to engage in a “process of fraternal dialogue” mediated by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, a statement said Saturday.
“Emissaries of the leaders of Fatah and Hamas have met in Dakar where they started a process of fraternal dialogue aimed at ironing out divergences and reconciling the Palestinian family,” said a statement sent to AFP by the Senegalese foreign ministry.
The text dated Saturday was co-signed by Senegalese Foreign Minister Cheikh Tidiane Gadio “for the facilitator,” by Hikmat Zeid for Fatah and by Emad Khalid Alamy for Hamas.
The meeting, whose length was not stated, was an initiative by Wade who is current chairman of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
On Friday Wade’s spokesman El Hadj Amadou Sall had announced the start of mediation between the Israelis and Palestinians with a “first inter-Palestinian phase” aimed at finding a joint Fatah-Hamas position on peace with Israel.
The rival factions were set to start reconciliation talks after the Islamists in the Gaza Strip on Thursday welcomed a call from Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas for national dialogue.
A year after the Islamists seized power in Gaza causing a political and territorial split, their political head in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, said he welcomed the chance to talk as soon as possible.
“We welcome the call by president Abbas to hold a national dialogue and the new positive spirit in his speech, and we state that our hand reaches out for national unity,” Haniya said.
The US-backed Abbas on Wednesday unexpectedly called for talks with Hamas, which ousted his Fatah party from the Gaza Strip in June 2007 after deadly factional fighting.
“We call for the immediate launch of a national dialogue based on the Yemen initiative” that foresees a return to the situation in the Gaza Strip prior to the Hamas takeover, Haniya said.