Last updated: 18 November, 2011

Erekat: Reconciliation with Hamas is Abbas’ top priority

Reconciliation with Hamas is the Palestinian Authority’s top priority, senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told AFP Friday.

“For us, there is no higher interest than reconciliation”, Erakat said.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal will meet in Cairo on November 25 for talks to resolve their fractured relationship.

Simmering tensions between Hamas and Abbas’ Fatah party boiled over into street battles in June 2007 and ended with the Islamist Hamas chasing secular Fatah from the Gaza Strip, leaving Abbas’s writ confined to the occupied West Bank.

After nearly four years of fruitless reconciliation efforts, in May Fatah unexpectedly signed a deal with Hamas under which both sides were to have set up a caretaker government of independents ahead of elections within a year.

But the agreement has never been implemented, with both sides bickering over the composition of the interim government and who should head it.

The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), the Palestinian umbrella group dominated by Abbas’s Fatah party and of which Hamas is not a member, said reconciliation efforts should be speeded up.