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Fatah, Hamas close to deal

27 May 2014, 10:24

Gaza City - Palestinian officials from the rival Fatah and Hamas parties are to meet Monday in the Gaza Strip to work out the final details on a unity government, but there are still disagreements over the powerful interior ministry, officials said. Azzam el-Ahmad, a senior leader in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's secular Fatah party, told reporters he will meet with Musa Abu Marzooq, a senior member of the Islamist Hamas group, to finalize the formation of the government.

"I will brief Hamas on the latest consultations I had with President Abbas on the final list of the unity government, the premier and the ministers," said el-Ahmad. "I hope today we will agree on the final shape of the new government." However, another senior Fatah official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the position of interior minister "is still unresolved."

The portfolio includes overseeing the Palestinian security forces, amid persisting questions about the future of Hamas' military wing in Gaza. One Fatah official in the West Bank said a new government could be announced as early as Thursday. The two largest Palestinian factions agreed at the end of April to form a transitional unity government by the end of this month and to hold elections by November.

Hamas violently ousted Abbas' forces from the Gaza Strip in 2007, and attempts to reconcile since have failed. US-brokered peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians fell apart last month.

bbas has said a unity agreement with Hamas would not prevent him from holding more negotiations with Israel in the future. Israel, meanwhile, announced it was planning to build 50 new housing units in East Jerusalem.

Settlements in the West Bank have been a major point of contention in the talks.



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