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|Egypt aims to cement Gaza ceasefire|
Article Date: January 26, 2009
other Palestinian factions are in Cairo for talks with Egyptian and
European mediators in an effort to cement the ceasefires that ended
Israel's three-week war on the Gaza Strip.
On Sunday, the Hamas delegation met Omar Suleiman, Egypt's intelligence chief, who held talks with both Israeli and Palestinian officials throughout the fighting in an attempt to secure a lasting truce.
Egypt's state MENA news agency said they discussed "Egyptian efforts to consolidate the ceasefire, reach a [permanent] truce, reopen Gaza crossings and resume Palestinian national dialogue".
says it will resume fighting unless the border crossings into Gaza are
reopened and Israel ends its 18-month economic blockade of the
fate of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian
fighters in June 2006, was also reported to be on the meeting's agenda.
The talks come after rival leaders from Hamas and Fatah expressed hopes for more unity following Israel's war on Gaza.
Bloody fallout between the two main Palestinian groups in June 2007 resulted in Fatah being left to rule the West Bank and Hamas gaining control of the Gaza Strip.
The Rafah crossing, and six border points into Israel, have largely remained closed since.
Palestinians from both sides now say the rival groups need to set aside their differences.
"The Israelis, when they came, they were not discriminating between Fatah and Hamas - they were attacking everyone," Faisal Abu Shahla, the director of al-Shifa hospital in Gaza, told Al Jazeera.
Abu Shahla, a supporter of Fatah, urged reconciliation between the two parties, saying anything less would be to ignore the will of ordinary Palestinians.
"The people of Gaza sent a message to politicians: we want you to be unified, and to have unity. Any talk about the sake or benefit of Hamas or Fatah is [a] failure, and not representative of the people," he said.
Ghazi Hamad, the former spokesman for Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, joined the renewed calls for unity, saying it was "a disaster" that Fatah and Hamas remained divided.
"We have to sit together, to talk together, in order to face the Israeli plan in our land," he said.
is very important, because the main conflict is not between Fatah and
Hamas, it is between Palestinians and Israel."
Source: Al Jazeera & agencies