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Thursday, April 28, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

With push from new Egypt regime, Fatah and Hamas agree in principle on unity government

CAIRO — After years of effort, Fatah and Hamas have signed an initial agreement for reconciliation.


Officials said the rival Palestinian movements have agreed in principle to establish a Palestinian unity government. They said the accord was facilitated by Egypt's new military regime and would pave the way for elections by mid-2012 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"The technocrat government will be tasked with preparing for presidential and legislative elections within a year of signing the agreement," Fatah Central Committee member Azzam Ahmad said.

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Few details were released on the Palestinian agreement, reached by Ahmad and Hamas deputy political bureau chief Mussa Abu Marzouk, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said the next step would be a signing ceremony in Cairo over the next two weeks.

Officials said the agreement also included the formation of a transitional government, joint security committee, 12-member election panel as well as the release of all political prisoners. They said Fatah agreed that Hamas would also be allowed to join the Fatah-dominated Palestine Liberation Organization.

"Egypt will summon all the factions at the beginning of next month to hear their reservations and sign the agreement," Ahmad said.

The reconciliation, arranged by Egyptian intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Murad Muwafi, has been promoted by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Officials said Abbas was urged by the United States and European Union to form a unity government with Hamas ahead of any effort for United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank in September 2011. The United States has relayed $470 million to the PA this year.

"What is now required is to intensify efforts towards the completion of the rule of law and institutions and push the international community toward the fulfillment of eligibility for September," former PA minister Hanan Ashrawi, who often speaks for the Palestinian leadership, said.

Officials said Egypt provided Hamas with an incentive to sign the initial accord. They said Muwafi pledged to free all Hamas detainees, including those suspected of insurgency operations in the Sinai Peninsula.

Hours after the signing, officials said, Egypt released nine Hamas prisoners. They said the Hamas operatives were to arrive in the Gaza Strip by April 28 while another 20 remained in Egyptian prisons.

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