Palestinian factions discuss reconciliation deal in Algiers
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Divided Palestinian factions met in Algiers Thursday amid efforts to persuade them to sign a reconciliation deal to lay out timelines to hold elections within a year, officials said.
"The Palestinians have been divided for more than 15 years, which has hugely weakened our cause," said Azzam al-Ahmed, the head of the Fatah delegation in the Algerian capital.
Ismael Haniyeh, chief of the Islamist movement Hamas, said the Algerian-mediated talks which began Tuesday had been "positive and calm".
The Fatah party of president Mahmud Abbas and its main rival Hamas have been at odds since elections in 2006, which were won by Hamas but never recognised by the international community.
Months later, the Islamist movement seized control of the Gaza Strip in a deadly conflict that consolidated years of division, with Fatah administering Palestinian-run areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Parliamentary and presidential polls, the first since the division, had been set to take place last year, but were cancelled.
Hossam Badran, a senior Hamas official said that they had "agreed to hold elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council, the presidency and the Palestinian National Council within a year".
But Fatah, whose head Mahmud Abbas is at meetings in Kazakhstan rather than at the talks in Algiers, sparked doubts on Wednesday night that a draft agreement would be signed.
It demanded that members of any resulting national unity government abide by international law, a point rejected by Hamas.
"The document proposed by Algeria was general and doesn't go into details," said Palestinian analyst Khalil Shaheen.