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Rival Palestinian leaders agree to form reconciliation committee

RIVAL Palestinian leaders have agreed to form a committee on intra-Palestinian reconciliation.  

Along with representatives from most Palestinian political groups, President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh met for rare face-to-face talks in the Egyptian coastal city of el-Alamein on Sunday.

The move towards reconciliation between the groups aims to bridge the divide between the parallel governments of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Fatah, which runs the Palestinian Authority, which administers the Palestinian-run areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The veteran Mr Abbas said he considered the meeting an “important step in continuing our dialogue” and announced the formation of a committee to continue the dialogue and to move towards achieving Palestinian national unity.  

“We must return to a single state, a single system, a single law and a single legitimate army,” he said.

Mr Haniyeh called on Mr Abbas to end security collaboration with Israel and any more political arrests, according to sources present at the meeting.  

The Hamas leader also called for a new inclusive parliament to be formed on the basis of free democratic elections.

Hamas won the Palestinians’ last legislative elections in 2006 but became de-facto ruler in the Gaza Strip a year later after wresting control from Fatah. 

Several weeks of conflict between the two sides followed, which ended with Hamas ruling the coastal enclave while Fatah was left to exercise limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank.

More than 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli occupation forces this year alone. Officials have warned that 2023 is on track to be the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since the United Nations began keeping track of fatalities in 2005.

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