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Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Hamas, Fatah reconciliation talks kick-off in Cairo

It looks like Fatah is backtracking on its call to Hamas to dismantle its military arm before the two sides come to terms. “Talk of disarmament is not on the table…our country is still under occupation,” leading Fatah central committee member Abbass Zaki told Al Shorouk. The statement came before Hamas and Fatah sat down for the first round of Egypt-sponsored reconciliation talks in Cairo yesterday, which went smoothly, according to a joint statement that was issued later in the day, revealing none of the meeting’s details.

This comes as the Times of Israel says that an Israeli delegation is reportedly in town to meet with “high-ranking Egyptian officials” ahead of the Palestinian unity talks.

Reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah would serve Egypt’s interests, Tarek El Tablawy writes for Bloomberg. An agreement would permanently halt the movement of militants between Gaza and Sinai and could also ease Gaza’s suffering and bolster the Palestinians’ hand in future peace talks with Israel. “Put together, they point to an assertive Egypt looking to reclaim its role as a regional powerhouse,” El Tablawy suggests. Reaching an agreement is far from certain, observers agree, and “the Egyptians have certainly put a lot of pressure on Hamas, but they’re under no illusions about the possibility of this agreement’s early demise,” Eran Lerman, a lecturer at Shalem College in Jerusalem says.

…separately, an Egyptian official said the military is expanding the buffer zone in Sinai with Gaza, The Associated Press reports. A security official says the military has bulldozed at least 140 homes and more than 200 acres along the Gaza Strip border, with plans to compensate the evacuees. The buffer zone will be 1,500 metres wide and 10 km long, according to North Sinai Governor Abdel Fatah Hathour.

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