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Fatah, Hamas leaders debate PLO reform in Cairo | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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CAIRO, (AFP) — Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal met on Thursday to discuss reforming the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in a bid to allow the Islamist movement to join.

The two men began meeting in Cairo at midday for talks marking the culmination of three days of discussions among Hamas, Fatah and the other 13 Palestinian factions aimed at thrashing out a stalled unity deal.

Egyptian intelligence chief Murad Muwafi and Palestinian independents also took part.

Abbas and Meshaal had held three hours of talks on Wednesday evening in what was the second time they had met in less than a month.

Independent MP Mustafa Barghouti said the participation of unaffiliated delegates such as himself and businessman Munib al-Masri alongside representatives of Hamas and Islamic Jihad was “a historic event.”

“It is the first time there is a unified leadership for all political and intellectual streams,” he told AFP.

The talks were focused on “national strategy and policy, and the programme of resistance” as well as reforming the PLO, he said.

Thursday’s meeting of the so-called provisional leadership, which was chaired by Abbas, also included the leaders of all the Palestinian factions, members of the PLO Executive Committee and the speaker of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), Selim Zaanoun.

It was the first time the provisional leadership body had met since it was formed in 2005 with the aim of providing a forum for debating reform of the PLO and allowing for the participation of factions such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

This meeting was “the first concrete application of the Cairo agreement, of the reconciliation and of the partnership between all the political forces,” Fatah delegation head Azzam al-Ahmed told AFP earlier on Thursday.

The meeting’s aim was to “focus on the restructuring of the PLO leadership and of the PNC,” he said, referring to the PLO’s parliament-in-exile which has more than 650 members on its books but which has not met in full session for 15 years.

It was also to deal with “the next stage in the PLO’s political programme” which would have to be approved by a new session of the PNC, Ahmed said.

“This body will demonstrate the incontestable fact that the PLO is the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” he said.

Hamas officials confirmed that the meeting would look at the proposed new body’s “mechanisms of action and how different factions could join it.”