Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Palestinians meet in Cairo amid rift clouding Gaza truce chances

(Reuters) - Palestinian factions met in Cairo on Wednesday for two days of talks aimed at mending a rift that could threaten Egyptian-mediated negotiations to turn the Gaza ceasefire into a lasting truce.

The split between the Islamist movement Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction relates to several key issues including control of Gaza. The disagreement could undermine any broader deal with Israel.

The ceasefire struck last month between Israel and the Palestinians to end the Gaza war including stipulations that the Palestinian Authority, led by Abbas, should take over civil administration in Gaza from Hamas.

But a dispute over the Palestinian Authority's non-payment of salaries to Gaza's public sector workers has brought tensions between the two main Palestinian factions to near-braking point, raising the risk of a return to conflict.

Sakher Bseiso, a Fatah central committee member taking part in the talks, told Reuters Fatah and Hamas would discuss issues including security, elections and governance of the Gaza Strip.

"The Cairo talks will discuss enabling the unity government to undertake its role in Gaza Strip and (conduct) bilateral relations between the two movements," he said. more

Egypt opens Rafah crossing for Gaza students

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Egypt opened the Rafah crossing with Gaza on Wednesday for students from the Strip who study at universities abroad, a Palestinian official said.

Ismail Abu al-Jibbain told Ma'an that priority would be given to Gazans who were denied entry to Egypt after attempting to enter on Sept. 17 or earlier. more

Kerry, Abbas meet in New York to discuss Gaza situation

NEW YORK (AFP) -- US Secretary of State John Kerry met with President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the situation in Gaza in the wake of the Israeli offensive, a state department official said.

The meeting in New York came as leaders converged for the United Nations General Assembly, and a day after Abbas gave a speech at Cooper Union vowing to present a new timetable for peace talks with Israel.

Kerry and Abbas agreed on the importance of providing humanitarian aid in Gaza, where a 50-day assault by Israel destroyed homes and infrastructure in densely populated Gaza, leaving more than 100,000 Palestinians homeless in the long term, according to the United Nations.

The top US diplomat also reiterated Washington's support for a two-state solution and its willingness to support negotiations. more