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Palestinian affairs.

--Hamas Gaza Seeks 3 Days to Decide on Egyptian Proposal

--Hamas Damascus Won't Sign without Conditions

--Fatah, Hamas Will Sign Tuesday--Paper

--Abbas Says Election in January

The leadership of the Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip has asked the Egyptian government for "two or three days" to decide on an Egyptian-mediated agreement ending the conflict between the group and its moderate rival Fatah. This is according to reports published in the Beirut media Friday morning, including AN NAHAR. The same paper reported from Damascus that seven radical factions based in Syria, including the Damascus-based Hamas leadership, issued a statement saying they won't endorse the agreement without reaffirming the "basic and fundamental goals of the Palestinian cause." It wasn't clear whether the Hamas position was coordinated between Gaza and Damascus.

"Palestinian factions will not sign the Egyptian document unless it includes Palestinian principles and rights and guarantees the right to resist the Zionist occupation," said secretary of the Palestinian dialogue higher follow-up committee in Damascus Khaled Abdul Majid, reported the Beirut leftist daily AS SAFIR Friday. He pointed out that Egypt's proposition was bereft of "any political vision related the conflict and aggression on our people." He said Cairo's proposal "ought to include the Jerusalem cause and the constant Judaization and attacks Jerusalem is undergoing and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the homes and properties they were forced out of."

Egypt proposed the signing of an agreement before Oct. 25 without celebrating the reconciliation in the wake of the deep divide over the deferral of the Goldstone report of South African Jurist Richard Goldstone. The report accused Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes during Israel's 22-day aggression on Gaza in December and January. The Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to delay a vote on the report, thus angering its rival Hamas, which asked last week for a postponement of the reconciliation. Fatah, also led by Abbas, approved the Egyptian proposition on Wednesday.

Abbas would not comment on the position of the Palestinian factions to the proposal. "We do not take positions based on what is reported by the media. These groups are supposed to submit their positions (in writing to Egypt), and then we will take the appropriate stance," he argued.

Signing Tuesday?

According to the state-run Egyptian daily Al Ahram, however, Fatah and Hamas will sign an agreement on Tuesday in Cairo. It quoted sources it identified as close to Hamas in Ramallah as saying the Islamists have approved the Egyptian document and that the deal will be signed by Hamas representatives next week.


Meanwhile, Abbas said on Thursday he would hold elections as planned in January unless Hamas agreed to the Egyptian reconciliation deal that would delay the polls until June. "Our Basic Law stipulates that elections must be held before January 24th, 2010," Abbas told a news conference after meeting Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. "According to the Egyptian document, elections should be held on 28th of June 2010. If there is an agreement (with Hamas) we will abide by it, but if there is no agreement we will abide by the Basic Law," Abbas said in his Ramallah headquarters, AS SAFIR reported.

Abbas' aides have made similar statements but the Western-backed leader's comments, voiced while Hamas continued to weigh Cairo's proposal, marked the first time he has said publicly he would order January polls in the absence of a deal. Egypt has been trying for more than a year to close the wide rift between Abbas' secular Fatah faction and Islamist Hamas, which won a parliamentary election in 2006 and took over the Gaza Strip in a brief Palestinian civil war in 2007. Under the proposed reconciliation, a committee of Palestinian factions would act as a liaison between the Fatah-dominated government in the West Bank and Hamas, and a joint police force would be formed.

While likely to be welcomed by many Palestinians, such Fatah-Hamas cooperation could pose a problem for Israel and the United States, which has been pressing Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resume peace negotiations. Hamas opposes the talks, suspended since December, and has rejected Western demands to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept existing interim peace deals.
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Title Annotation:Today's News Highlights
Publication:The Daily Middle East Reporter (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Oct 16, 2009
Previous Article:UAE-Israel.
Next Article:Jordan-security.

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