Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Palestinian sources said that Egypt informed all the Palestinian factions, which have been invited to attend inter-Palestinian dialogue in Cairo on 22 February, of the need to form a transitional Palestinian government by no later than April. The sources said that this government’s task will be to run the PNA affairs, prepare for presidential and legislative elections to be held in January next year, and to coordinate with the donor parties to rebuild what the Israeli war machine destroyed until a new government takes office.
Meanwhile, Asharq Al-Awsat has learned that the Hamas Movement asserted the need to form a national unity government, to be supported by all forces, while the Fatah Movement prefers a government of technocrats. For its part, Egypt believes that it should be a national accord government that may consist of ministers from Hamas, Fatah, and other factions. Nevertheless, Egypt prefers that the head and members of such a government not be prominent figures.
The Palestinian sources said the Palestinian national dialogue will begin on schedule and will last two days. They added that the dialogue’s six committees will begin their work on the 28th of February. The sources explained that these committees deal with the status of the PLO, government, establishment of security agencies, elections, reconciliation, and crises.
The same sources noted that the six committees are scheduled to complete their work in three days after they begin their meetings and that they will present their conclusions to Egyptian and Palestinian officials during the dialogue sessions.
An Egyptian official said Egypt’s efforts and the meetings that were held between Fatah and Hamas in the past few weeks broke the ice between the two movements. He added that more meetings will be held in the coming period at various levels in the Palestinian territories and abroad to nurse the wounds shortly before the dialogue sessions begin.
For his part, a senior Fatah official said: “We have agreed with Hamas to open all crossings, including the Rafah Crossing. Talks on the Rafah Crossing will begin in March, and agreement has been reached that this crossing will be under full supervision by the Palestinian president’s guards.”
He added: “Also, agreement has been reached to establish security agencies with Arab participation and form a government that will take power by no later than April and prepare for presidential and legislative elections under the proportional representation law on a date to be agreed upon by all parties. In addition, agreement was reached to step up efforts regarding the exchange of prisoners in a period not exceeding six weeks.”
The Fatah official said: “We agreed with Hamas to open a new page in the relations between the two parties and to achieve calm with the occupation authorities for a year and a half, to be renewed in line with the higher national interest. Renewal of the calm will be decided by all factions collectively every time the calm period expires.”
He added: “We also agreed on the need to resolve the issue of political detentions in Gaza and the West Bank. Cairo asked the two movements to provide it with the names of the political detainees in order to set up a specialized committee to release them in three weeks to create a good and suitable climate for the dialogue.”
According to Palestinian sources in Gaza, President Mahmud Abbas, alias Abu-Mazin, and Hamas Political Bureau Chief Khalid Mishal will be invited to attend the dialogue session. The sources noted that, in the past, Mishal insisted that Abu-Mazin be treated at the opening session as leader of the Fatah Movement, not as leader of the Palestinians, by making him sit alongside the Fatah members in their allocated seats.
The sources said there are signs indicating that the task of forming a new government will be easier than was expected, given deposed prime minister Ismail Haniyeh’s announcement of his readiness to give up his post, in addition to the situation that resulted from the war on Gaza and the Israeli right wing’s intention to form a new government.
The sources noted that these two developments left no room for any Palestinian party to doubt the importance of restoring national unity and ending the division.
Meanwhile, Spokesman for the Hamas Movement Fawzi Barhum praised the meetings that are currently held between the Hamas and Fatah movements’ delegations in Cairo. He said these meetings “broke the ice.”