Fatah-led delegation leaves for Gaza reconciliation talks

RAMALLAH – A Fatah-led delegation, commissioned by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to visit the Gaza Strip to discuss inter-Palestinian reconciliation with the Islamist Hamas movement, left Ramallah on Tuesday.

"The delegation has left for the Gaza Strip where it will hold talks on how to achieve reconciliation," delegation member Mustafa al-Barghouti told Anadolu Agency.

The delegation is due to arrive at the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing before entering the Gaza Strip once it has obtained permission from the Israeli authorities.

Fatah spokesman in Gaza Hassan Ahmed had earlier said that the delegation's visit was aimed at kick-starting implementation of the terms of earlier reconciliation agreements, including the formation of a national unity government and setting a date for elections.

Deputy Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouq arrived in Gaza earlier Monday to attend the planned reconciliation talks between Hamas, which has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007, and West Bank-based factions led by Abbas' Fatah.

Relations between Fatah and Hamas have been tense since the latter seized control of the Gaza Strip following deadly clashes with pro-Fatah forces in 2007 – one year after Hamas defeated Fatah in Palestinian legislative polls.

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