Senior Hamas delegate Izzat Reshiq was hopeful that the meeting would lay out a road map for national reconciliation.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (C) chairs a cabinet meeting in Gaza Strip on October 3, 2017.
Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (C) chairs a cabinet meeting in Gaza Strip on October 3, 2017. (Reuters)

Unity talks between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas in Cairo began on an optimistic note on Tuesday, with a top Hamas delegate saying he was “full of hope” for a road map to reconciliation.

“We meet in Cairo full of hope to draw and lay down a road map entitled a national reconciliation,” senior Hamas delegate Izzat Reshiq said on his Twitter account.

“Unity and national reconciliation among all our Palestinian people is our strategic option to move forwards.”

Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party have been at odds since they fought a near-civil war in 2007. 

Hamas seized Gaza from Fatah in 2007 in clashes following a dispute over parliamentary elections which Hamas had won.

Multiple attempts at reconciliation have since failed but the recent Egyptian-headed push received a major boost last month when Hamas agreed to cede civilian power in Gaza.

Last week, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah held his first cabinet meeting in Gaza since the unity government was drawn up in 2014, in a major step towards Palestinian reconciliation. 

Security concerns 

Azzam Ahmad, one of the leaders of the Fatah delegation, said negotiations would also cover the running of government ministries in Gaza. Also heading the Fatah contingent is Majed Faraj, Palestinian intelligence chief and a close ally of Abbas.

A third issue on the table would be the fate of 40,000 to 50,000 employees Hamas hired since 2007. Heading the Hamas delegation is Saleh Arouri, the group’s deputy leader.

Fatah’s Ahmad said Rafah, Gaza’s only border crossing with Egypt and once the main gateway to the world for its two million people, should be run by Abbas’ presidential guards with supervision from the European Union border agency instead of the currently deployed Hamas-linked employees.

He said the government would work to complete arrangements in a week or two for the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings.

Abbas and Hamas chief Ismail Haniya will not attend the talks, which will be held behind closed doors.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies