Fatah and Hamas agree on Yemeni plan to resume talks
Rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas agreed Sunday on a Yemeni plan to resume direct reconciliation talks in April, the two sides announced. ( dpa )
The "Sana'a Declaration" was based on a Yemeni plan to bring leaders from the two factions together and was signed by the Deputy Chief of Hamas, Mussa Abu Marzouk and Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad.
"The Yemeni plan would be used as a framework to resume dialogue between the two movements to return the Palestinian situation to their conditions before the Gaza events," said the declaration, read out by Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu-Bakr al-Qerbi.
Under the deal, the two factions agreed to return the political situation in the Palestinian territories to its original status before the June 2007 power struggle in which Hamas ousted Fatah and took control of the Gaza Strip.
In remarks following the signing ceremony, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh invited the two factions for dialogue in Sana'a in April.
"We invite them (to Sana'a) at the beginning of next month to resume the dialogue, and Yemen will host you," Saleh said.
"I think the initiative will lead to a breakthrough and will re-establish confidence between Fatah and Hamas and the other Palestinian factions," he added.
The Yemeni leader also appealed to the two movements to "encourage calm and prevent any media escalation."
Delegates from the two factions reconvened at the presidential palace in Sana'a earlier Sunday for direct negotiations after they failed to reach an agreement on the Yemeni plan to reconcile them during indirect talks on Saturday.
The declaration, signed in the presence of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, also underlined the "unity of the Palestinian homeland, people, territory and authority."
Negotiators from both factions began indirect talks through Yemeni mediators in Sana'a on Thursday.
Their talks focused on a Yemeni initiative to bring Hamas leaders together with their Fatah counterparts for a reconciliation dialogue in Sana'a in April.
Yemen has offered to mediate between Hamas and Fatah, urging Hamas to end its control of the Gaza Strip.
The seizure of Gaza by Hamas prompted the Western-backed Abbas to dismiss the Hamas-led cabinet and form a transitional government in the West Bank.
Under the Yemeni plan, Hamas would return the situation in the Gaza Strip to its previous condition before initiating a dialogue with Fatah.