Reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah to start this week
The inter-Palestinian meeting between Fatah and Hamas could take place in a few days, according to the daily Asharq Al-Awsat. But location for the summit is contested: Fatah refuses to go to Damascus. Beirut and Sanaa possibilities.

Ramallah (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The anticipated inter-Palestinian talks between Fatah and the Islamist movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip (pictured in 2008, a meeting between Abbas and Khaled Meshaal) could take place this week in a place yet to be determined. This was reported by the English language online Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat. Fatah Central Committee member, Azzam al-Ahmad, also head of the delegation for the dialogue, told the newspaper, that an agreement was reached with Hamas to meet this week.

Al-Ahmad added that within the next few hours delegates are expected to agree on the place where to hold reconciliation talks. There is a shortlist of candidate cities including Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. The capital of Yemen came into play after President Ali Abdullah Saleh said he was in favour of hosting the Palestinian delegation. In any case, informed sources of Asharq Al-Awsat note that at the moment the location for talks is the real bone of contention, with Hamas insisting on Syria and Fatah refusing to accept it.

A tug of war between the two factions

The talks between the two Palestinian factions have been hanging by a thread for weeks. The first round of talks was held in September, again in the Syrian capital. Since then, Fatah's security forces have arrested several Hamas militants, provoking a harsh response from the armed wing of the radical movement.

Scheduled for October 20 in Damascus, the second round was postponed at the request of the then leader of Fatah, the President of Palestine National Authority (PNA), Mahmoud Abbas. The same sources explained to the Arabic newspaper efforts are under way to achieve reconciliation between President Abbas and Bashar al-Assad,. The two had a falling out during the last Arab League summit in Sirte in Libya. An altercation that led Fatah to oppose Damascus program as a host city for the inter-Palestinian meetings.

Khalil al-Hayyah, a leading figure of Hamas, said he had asked Fatah to abandon its demands for a new place and accept the "Syrian proposal." He added: " We agreed with Fatah to resume the last meeting at the same place in which it was held, but regrettably, Fatah demanded changing the venue, and we still insist on holding it in the same place because this is something that has been agreed on in the past and we do not see any justification at all for changing it, and there is no need for politicizing the venue”.