Reconciliation Committee Meets in Gaza

The cross-party committee overseeing national reconciliation met in the Gaza Strip for the first time on Monday, after the meeting was postponed days earlier.

The "public freedoms committee" is tasked with hammering out a number of tenets of the unity deal signed in May, including political prisoners, passports, closure of institutions, travel bans and freedom of political expression, committee member Hani Abu Amra told Ma’an.

After meeting on Monday in Islamic Jihad offices in Gaza City, Abu Hamra said the members agreed on the necessity of releasing all imprisoned based on their political affiliation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Arab Front delegate said he hoped there will be promising results in the next few days.

Committee members also agreed travel bans should be forbidden unless they are court-ordered, and that all citizens, regardless of political affiliation, should be entitled to a passport.

The remainder of the topics will be discussed in the next meeting on Wednesday, he said.

The committee has met twice in the West Bank in recent weeks, but a Saturday summit in Gaza was postponed for "technical reasons," according to delegates.

Fatah leader and President Mahmoud Abbas signed a landmark reconciliation agreement with Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal in Cairo in May, to end years of hostility. In 2007, fighting between the parties reached near civil war and led to the division of the West Bank and Gaza under separate governments.

The parties agreed in May to form a unity government, but the administration has yet to be appointed and the leaders met again in Cairo on Nov. 24 for further talks.

After the November meeting, Abbas said all differences had been resolved and pledged that results would be seen on the ground "in the coming days and weeks."

Meanwhile, Mashaal said: "Everyone should be confident and wait for developments on the ground, and not just words."

Yet several weeks later, officials from both parties said reconciliation remained elusive, blaming each other for continued arrests of their affiliates.

Nevertheless, Abu Amra described Monday’s meeting as "positive and reassuring."

The committee also includes: Fatah delegate Hisham Abdul Razik, Hamas delegate Ismail al-Ashqar, Al-Dameer association for human rights director Khalil Abu Shamala, Islamic Jihad delegate Khalid Al-Batsh, FIDA delegate Khalid al-Khatib, General Leadership member Luai al-Qarbouty, Arab Liberation Front delegate Zaher Al-Hadili and Palestinian Liberation Front delegate Adnan al-Ghareeb.

(Ma’an News)

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