Palestinian government deal by June 6: Shaath

May 29, 2011

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — Rival Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas expect to agree the make-up of a transitional government of independents by June 6, senior Fatah official Nabil Shaath said on Sunday.

Speaking at a news conference after meeting Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya, Shaath declined to discuss potential ministers in the new government, which is mandated by a surprise unity deal signed by the two groups last month.

“It’s not my role to talk about the candidates,” he said, pointing out that a joint committee was studying potential ministers.

“There will be agreement between the parties on all the names by June 6,” he said.

Bitter rivals for decades, Hamas and Fatah are working to overcome their differences under the terms of a surprise reconciliation deal signed in Cairo last month.

The accord calls on the two sides to work towards integrating their rival security forces and reforming the Palestine Liberation Organization.

It also mandates legislative and presidential elections within a year, with a transitional government of independents being formed to lay the groundwork for the votes.

Shaath said on Sunday that the two sides were close to resolving another thorny issue — political prisoners.

Hamas and Fatah have routinely arrested each other’s members, with each side accusing the other of mistreatment and arbitrary detention.

The reconciliation deal calls for the release of all political prisoners from the two sides, and Shaath said political arrests had already been halted.

He said he expected that the two groups would close the political arrests “file” soon.

“There is full agreement on that,” he said. “The number of prisoners remaining in detention has shrunk and the file will be closed in upcoming days in accordance with the (unity) agreement,” Shaath said.

He gave no details about any planned prisoner releases.

The reconciliation deal signed by the two parties aims to end years of bitter rivalry that boiled over in 2007, a year after Hamas won a surprise victory in legislative elections, culminating in street battles between the two groups in Gaza.

Hamas routed Fatah, seizing control of the Gaza Strip and leaving Abbas’s party to run a parallel government unable to extend control beyond the West Bank.

Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.

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