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Hamas, Fatah Sign Reconciliation Agreement

Beijing (Xinhuanet): The Palestinian rival groups Hamas and Fatah have signed their reconciliation agreement. But a last minute disagreement over protocol is casting shadow on the durability of the accord.

The Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who heads Fatah, and the Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal were in Cairo on Wednesday to endorse the deal to end a four-year rift.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, right, gives a speach as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, sits next to Egypt's intelligence chief Morad Mwafi, second left, and Egypt's Foriegn Minister Nabil El-Arabi, during the reconciliation meeting in Cairo on Wednesday (AP photo)

But the ceremony was delayed by a disagreement over protocol shortly before it began. It’s about whether Khaled Meshaal should sit on the podium with Mahmoud Abbas or down among other Palestinian delegates in the hall.

Officials from all the Palestinian factions had earlier signed the deal. And Meshaal and Abbas were expected to endorse it at the ceremony. It was not immediately clear why they were not going to put their own signatures to it.

A spokesman for Abbas said the deal was signed on behalf of Fatah by Azzam al-Ahmad, a Fatah Central Committee Member, and for Hamas by Mousa Abu Marzouk, Deputy Head of Hamas Political Bureau. Palestinian officials said Wednesday’s ceremony was a “celebration”.

The deal calls for forming an interim government to run the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip and prepare for a general election within a year. Palestinians see this reconciliation as crucial for their drive to establish an independent state in the occupied territories.

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