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Fatah and Hamas Hail New Era of 'Partnership'

PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal met in Cairo, claiming their differences have been set aside.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 11/24/2011, 5:27 PM

Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal on Thursday hailed their new "partnership" after talks in Cairo.

"We want to assure our people and the Arab and Islamic world that we have turned a major new and real page in partnership on everything do to with the Palestinian nation," Mashaal told reporters.

"There are no more differences between us now," added Abbas, who heads the Fatah movement.

Despite claims of solidarity the issue of who will serve as the next PA prime minister -- a point of contention between Hamas and Fatah -- was not discussed.

Incumbent PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has said he will step down so he cannot "be used as a pretext to prevent unity" by Hamas.

Also not discussed was Hamas' refusal to accept standing agreements between the PA and Israel -- or the bilateral track demanded by the Quartet for Middle East Peace.

Fatah and Hamas factions are expected to meet again in Cairo on December 15 to set a date for holding PA elections, now two years overdue.

Hamas broke a coalition government with Fatah in 2007 when it seized Gaza in a violent putsch. The terror movement maintains the only path to statehood is through 'resistance' and the total destruction of the Jewish state.

Observers say, despite Abbas and Mashaal's claims the differences between them had been bridged, none of the key points of contention between Fatah and Hamas were addressed during the meeting.

Earlier, the head of the ruling military council in Egypt, Muhammad Hussain Tantawi, welcomed Abbas and Mashaal to Cairo ahead of the talks.

Tantawi and Abbas held a 50-minute meeting, their longest since Hosni Mubarak's ouster.

“Palestine is very important for Egyptians, and it’s as important as what’s happening in Tahrir square,” Tantawi reportedly told Abbas.