Egyptian plan for Hamas-Fatah reconciliation calls for PLO reform, continued negotiation with Israel
Date: 20 / 10 / 2008  Time:  21:05
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Bethlehem – Ma’an – Egypt has drafted a proposal to bring rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah under the umbrella of a unity government and a reformed Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Ma’an obtained a copy of the four-page proposal, which was delivered to Hamas and Fatah on Sunday. The document suggests that the PLO, an umbrella organization that excludes Hamas, should be reformed to include all the Palestinian factions.

Egypt is hosting a summit meeting of 13 factions on 9 November in hopes of healing a political rift that has persisted since Hamas violently took control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007. After the takeover, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed a unity government. Hamas beat Abbas’ Fatah party in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections.

The document says that previous agreements between Hamas and Fatah will be the basis of the reconciliation talks. It refers to the Cairo agreement of March 2005, the National Conciliation document of May 2006, the Mecca agreement of February 2007, Abbas’ call for dialogue in June 2008.

The proposal envisions the formation of a united transitional government that would oversee the key steps to unity, including new elections, combating the siege of the Gaza Strip, and reforming the security forces.

The document includes key demands that have been issued by both Hamas and Fatah. Hamas has previously demanded that the Palestinian security forces be depoliticized, so that they report to the central authority rather than individual factions, although now Hamas may not want to give up its Executive Forces in the Gaza Strip.

The document refers to ‘simultaneous’ presidential and legislative elections, in accordance with Fatah’s view that President Abbas should stay on beyond the end of his term in January, until new elections in 2010. Hamas wants Abbas to step down in January 2009.

In the draft the PLO is reaffirmed as the ‘sole legitimate representative’ of the Palestinian people. It calls for the implementation of the 2005 Cairo agreement which calls for the PLO to be reformed to include all Palestinian factions. Implicitly, this is a call for Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the independent Palestinian National Initiative to be included in the PLO, which until today is dominated by Fatah and several smaller parties, including the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).

The draft also calls for new elections for the Palestinian National Council, the PLO’s parliament which represents Palestinians both in the occupied territories and abroad.

The document recommends that President Abbas, as the PLO leader, continue negotiations with Israel on a final status agreement. Any agreement must however be presented to the Palestinian National Council for approval, or possibly to call a referendum.

Individual committees dealing with elections, security, the PLO, and the makeup of the Palestinian government are to be formed, and representatives of the Arab states are invited to participate in those committees.