The two rival Palestinian factions - Hamas and Fatah - started a new round of talks in Cairo on Sunday, the official MENA news agency reported, facing a 10-day deadline to reach a reconciliation agreement. “The two delegations, who had a working dinner on Saturday evening, met (on Sunday) for a sixth round of talks,” MENA reported.
The factions are to meet Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman ahead of a July 7 target date to sign the agreement which will lay out an electoral law, define the make-up of security forces and of a committee that will liaise between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank ahead of an election in 2010.
Hamas, however, voiced pessimism on the eve of the talks, according to AFP. It has demanded that the Palestinian Authority release all “political prisoners” or provide a timetable for their release. Senior Hamas figure, Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil conveyed the current round of talks should discuss pending issues of previous rounds. According to PIC, he said that the focus in this round would be on political detention in the West Bank before proceeding to any other question.
According to him, latest statistics indicated that by Sunday morning the number of those in the jails of the PA had risen to 915. He stressed the current talks would reach a successful end just with the release of those detainees.