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Fatah, Hamas meet in Damascus to discuss ongoing split.

A delegation from the secular Palestinian faction Fatah met with the head of the political wing of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, on Friday to discuss solving the split between the two factions, the influential Lebanese daily AN NAHAR reported on Saturday. The Fatah delegation was headed by Izam al-Ahmad. The meeting took place in the Damascus suburb of Mezzeh, where the Hamas political leader lives in exile. The meeting was held in the presence of a number of members of Hamas' political wing, and continued into the early hours.

AN NAHAR learned of the meeting through the General Secretary of a breakaway wing of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front (PPSF), Khaled Abdul Majid. He said: "It seems that these days Damascus is the capital of reconciliation in the region ... Syria is a prominent player in most of the complicated issues that have witnessed breakthroughs recently, such as the Lebanese situation and relations with Iraq ... Therefore, we Palestinians hope that we can solve some of our problems in the coming period, in the same way that others have."

Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have been sharply at odds since Hamas won disputed parliamentary elections in 2006. Armed conflict ensued the following year, which left Fatah in charge of the West Bank with Hamas controlling the Gaza Strip. Egypt has been trying to broker an agreement that would lead to Palestinian reconciliation, but to date these attempts have been unsuccessful.

The Fatah delegation also met with the General Secretary of the militant Islamist Palestinian group Islamic Jihad, Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, before meeting with Meshaal. The two discussed the efforts being made to calm the situation in Palestine. Abdul Majid said that the atmosphere during the meeting was positive.

Abdul Majid added that this round of discussions between the factions is a positive step, and likely meant that more delegations would be sent in future. The deputy head of Hamas's political wing, Moussa Abu Marzouk, said that the meeting "was not simply a political choice. Rather it is the fate of the Palestinian people to be united. It is their fate to transgress these divisions, whatever their causes were, because the implications affect all Palestinian people, whatever their stance."
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Publication:The Weekly Middle East Reporter (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7SYRI
Date:Sep 25, 2010
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