07/07/2022, 10.39
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Meeting between Fatah and Hamas leaders in Algiers 'positive'

After years, Abu Mazen and Ismail Haniyeh shook hands in Algeria, where they were attending celebrations for the 60th anniversary of independence. Catholic leader: a sort of 'protocol' that can, however, guarantee 'steps forward'. Gaza parish priest: a "signal" for the entire Palestinian people and the "search for an agreement". 



Gaza (AsiaNews) - The face-to-face meeting between the leaders of Fatah and Hamas in Algeria may be a "façade" as analysts and experts point out, but the greater internal unity it points to could unblock a lengthy stalemate and relaunch the Palestinian issue on an international. Holy Family Pastor Fr. Gabriel Romanelli, an Argentinean priest of the Incarnate Word, considers the face-to-face meeting between the leaders of Fatah and Hamas in Algeria "a positive fact", because "already the fact that they are publicly speaking and meeting" represents "a signal for all the people" of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, as well as "Israel".

Bernard Sabella, former Fatah representative and executive secretary of the Palestinian refugee service of the Middle East Council of Churches, is more cautious.He maintains "the reality of the facts makes this meeting" a sort of "protocol". However, the possible implications need to be assessed and whether it will guarantee 'significant steps forward' in terms of dialogue and cooperation.

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Abu Mazen met with a delegation from Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, led by political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh on 5 July, but the news and photos were only circulated yesterday afternoon. The first  face-to-face talks in more than five years  took place in Algiers on the sidelines of celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of the North African country's independence.

According to a note by the Algerian presidency, published on its institutional social media, Head of State Abdelmadjid Tebboune brought the delegations of the PNA and Hamas together "in the same room" . The statement speaks of a meeting between "Palestinian brothers" that took place after years in which the two sides "did not sit together at the same table". There had long been a total rift between the parties, despite the many problems that afflict the Palestinian population in the West Bank and the Strip, a sort of open-air prison. 

Videos and photos, which received wide coverage in the North African country's media, show President Tebboune standing between Abu Mazen and Haniyeh, who later shook hands in front of the cameras. Months ago, the Algerian presidency itself had anticipated the possibility of a meeting between the parties, for which Algiers was working with conviction in an attempt to find a unity of intent.

The meeting was described by many as 'historic', although its contents are not known and neither side wished to make any official statements. Nevertheless, the face-to-face meeting is a further confirmation of Algeria's attempt to mediate within the Palestinian factions and relaunch the diplomatic effort to find a solution to the Palestinian cause that has now disappeared from the international agenda. Haniya and Abbas last met in October 2016 in Doha, the capital of Qatar, as part of the latest, and largest, effort to reconcile the two sides. The PA delegation included representatives of the intelligence services and the judiciary.

'The fact that they were seen and made the meeting public,' the Gaza pastor resumes, 'is a manifestation of unity and a search for agreement, at least on some points. And it can guarantee greater strength, he concludes, in relations with Israel 'where already this year we have recorded, a very positive element, the granting of thousands of work permits to the inhabitants of the Strip. Moreover, there were no major clashes on the anniversary of the war in May 2021 and this is also an encouraging sign'. 

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