Egypt allowing Palestinian amendments on proposal, say officials
Palestinian negotiators have not had their proposals for amendments to a draft reconciliation plan rejected out of hand in the run up to inter-Palestinian peace talks, senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said Tuesday.
"It is not true that the amendments were rejected ... we have already overcome many obstacles," al-Zahar told Deutsche Presse- Agentur dpa.
The talks, scheduled to run from November 10-11, are designed to seek peace between the Palestinian Islamic group Hamas, which has de facto control of the Gaza Strip, and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, which runs the West Bank. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is to officiate at the meeting.
Khaled Abdel Meguid, secretary of the follow-up committee of a national meeting of Palestinians, was quoted last week saying that "Egypt told the Palestinian factions that it would not consider the comments and amendments made by the factions on the draft submitted by Cairo."
Abdel Meguid also reportedly said that Cairo's refusal to consider the amendments endangered the ability to hold the conference.
But on Tuesday, an official source told dpa: "Egypt told the Hamas delegation that all the observations made by the movement and other Palestinian factions on the Egyptian proposal will be taken into account during discussions."
He added that Egypt will not interfere in the Palestinian dialogue, unless a huge difference arose between the factions and threatened the process.
A Hamas delegation, headed by Mussa Abu Marzouk and al-Zahar, held talks with Egyptian officials on Tuesday. Al-Zahar described the meeting as "positive and productive."
"We will not announce our final position before assessing the situation at home and abroad, that is: in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Damascus," Zahar added.
The official source said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will hold a conference next Monday to reveal information about the dialogue.
Egypt has been brokering reconciliation talks between Hamas, Fatah and various other Palestinian factions for months. The Egyptian- drafted proposal calls for reforming the Palestinian security services, which is divided between the factions, and forming a new national unity government.