Gaza ceasefire talks due in Cairo

EU and Egyptian mediators to discuss opening of border crossings into Gaza.

    Israel's three-week assault on Gaza has led to renewed calls for Palestinian unity [GALLO/GETTY]

    The talks come after rival factions Hamas and Fatah expressed hopes for more unity following Israel's war on Gaza.

    But Al Jazeera's Amr El-Kahky, reporting from Cairo, said: "Egypts want to work first at stabilising the ceasefire.

    "Today is the beginning of the second week [of the ceasefire]. The Palestinian factions promised only one week as long as Israel withdrew its troops."

    Hamas, which claims to have won the 23-day war with Israel, says it wants some of its demands met.

    The groups is trying to negotiate a deal that would allow the Rafah crossing into Egypt to stay open contiously, even if monitors from the EU or security forces from the Palestinian Authority (PA), which is currently controlled by Fatah, are not present.

    Palestinian 'unity'

    Bloody fallout between the two main Palestinian groups in June 2007 resulted in Fatah being the dominant power in the West Bank and Hamas gaining control of the Gaza Strip.


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    The Rafah crossing, and six border points into Israel, have largely remained closed since, save for a trickle of emergency humanitarian aid.

    Palestinians from both sides now say the rival groups need to set aside their differences.

    "The Israelis, when they came, they were not discriminating between Fatah and Hamas - they were attacking everyone," Faisal Abu Shahla, the director of al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, told Al Jazeera.

    Abu Shahla, a supporter of Fatah, urged reconciliation between the two parties, saying anything less would be to ignore the will of ordinary Palestinians.

    "The people of Gaza sent a message to politicians: we want you to be unified, and to have unity. Any talk about the sake or benefit of Hamas or Fatah is [a] failure, and not representative of the people," he said.

    Ghazi Hamad, the former spokesman for Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, joined the renewed calls for unity, saying it was "a disaster" that Fatah and Hamas remained divided.

    "We have to sit together, to talk together, in order to face the Israeli plan in our land," he said.

    "This is very important, because the main conflict is not between Fatah and Hamas, it is between Palestinians and Israel."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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