In Brief: Hamas and Fatah teams meet in Cairo to agree elections deal

Mahmoud Abbas. Photo:, CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Representatives of Hamas and Fatah met in Cairo this week to begin talks aimed at securing an agreement which will allow Palestinians to vote in their first elections in 15 years. Mahmoud Abbas (pictured) last month signed a decree authorising elections to the Palestinian parliament and for the presidency this summer.
Alongside representatives of 14 other Palestinian factions – including Islamic Jihad and the Popular Struggle Front – Abbas’ Fatah party and terror group Hamas are now attempting to hammer out procedural matters surrounding the poll. The picture is complicated by the fact that the Palestinian Authority’s writ no longer runs in Gaza, where Hamas seized power in a violent coup in 2007. The talks are likely to focus on the establishment of an independent elections court to resolve disputes, an agreement by both sides not to undertake politically motivated arrests, and the tricky question of whose security forces will guard the polling stations. There has also been intense speculation that Hamas and Fatah – both of which are deeply unpopular – may be planning to do a deal which would see a joint list of candidates for the legislative elections. Fatah secretary-general Jibril Rajoub, who is leading Abbas’ negotiating team in Cairo, told Palestine TV last week that the president’s party had their “hearts open to any possibility”. However, many observers are sceptical that the elections will actually go ahead: Abbas has signed decrees before and previous “unity agreements” between Fatah and Hamas have repeatedly fallen apart.
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