Gaza City, Gaza – A delegation sent by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has arrived in the Gaza Strip for a new round of Palestinian reconciliation talks with rival political faction Hamas.
The West Bank delegation arrived on Tuesday afternoon and went to a reception at the home of Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s Gaza-based prime minister.
The five-member delegation includes officials from Abbas’ Fatah party, leftist factions in the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Palestinian businessman Munib al-Masri.
The official talks will start on Wednesday.
In brief, there must be no selectivity in implementing the agreements we signed. All the files should be tackled side-by-side.
Hamas and Fatah, the two main Palestinian political factions, have been divided since factional fighting broke out after Hamas’ victory in Palestinian legislative council elections in 2006.
“The current phase is the phase of implementing what was signed in the past, not making dialogues to reach new understandings,” Haniyeh said.
“We are in the final hours.”
Fatah’s Azzam al-Ahmad said he was happy the time had come for the factions to “end the ugly split”.
“The ball is in our court as Palestinians and we should not disappoint our people and we should go ahead with reconciliation,” al-Ahmad said.
Mustafa Barghouti, the secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, earlier told Al Jazeera that Israel tried to block the delegation at Erez crossing, on Gaza’s northern border with Israel, but it allowed the delegates through “after [they] threatened… to travel through Egypt”.
A year later, Hamas took control of the besieged Gaza Strip, while the US-backed Palestinian Authority rules over parts of the occupied West Bank.
Barghouti said the discussions would focus on implementing earlier reconciliation agreements brokered by Egypt and Qatar in 2011 and 2012. The Doha Agreement stipulated that presidential and legislative elections be held under the direction of Abbas.
“In brief, there must be no selectivity in implementing the agreements we signed,” Yahia Moussa, a Gaza-based Hamas official, told Al Jazeera. “All the files should be tackled side-by-side.”
On Tuesday, Egypt allowed a senior Hamas official, Moussa Abu Marzouk, into Gaza through Rafah crossing to take part in the discussions. Hamas also released 10 Fatah prisoners before the meeting as a goodwill gesture.
Abu Thaer, one of the released Fatah prisoners, said: “This is a good step to achieve reconciliation. We hope there will be more steps… as there are still other Fatah members in Hamas jails for more than seven years.”
The latest round of talks comes as the two factions are under outside pressure. The PA is dealing with the looming breakdown of US-sponsored peace negotiations with Israel, while Hamas is attempting to ease a severe economic crisis in Gaza, largely due to a breakdown in relations with neighbouring Egypt.