Hamas delegation in Egypt

2009-04-19 20:32

El-Arish - A delegation of Hamas officials from Gaza arrived in Egypt through the Rafah border crossing on Sunday, a border official said, a week before Palestinian unity talks were to resume in Cairo.

The delegation was led by Salah Bardawil, one of the Islamist movement's leaders in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas and its secular rival Fatah, led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas, have been bitterly divided after Hamas seized control of Gaza in a week of dealdly factional fighting in June 2007.

Egyptian efforts to reconcile them have been unsuccessful so far because of disagreements on the composition and obligations of a Palestinian unity government.

Hamas and Fatah adjourned their last round of meetings in early April, with Fatah saying it wished to discuss new proposals by Egyptian mediators with the leadership.

The main stumbling block is the obligations of a unity government.

Hamas, which wants to replace Israel with an Islamic Palestinian state, says it will not commit to existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The Middle East Quartet - Russia, the United States, United Nations and European Union - has made dealing with Hamas conditional on its recognition of Israel and commitment to past Palestinian-Israeli accords.