Reconciliation talks between Palestinian factions begin in Moscow

Gianluca Pacchiani is the Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Palestinian factions kick off a three-day meeting in Moscow in a bid to achieve a reconciliation and push for an end to the ongoing war in Gaza.

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said yesterday that he doesn’t expect “miracles” to happen in the talks, adding that they should be followed by other meetings in the region soon.

The meeting comes days after the Fatah-led PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh in Ramallah submitted his resignation together with his cabinet, a gesture in response to repeated requests by the US and Arab states to reform the Authority and pave the way for a new technocratic government that should rule over the West Bank and Gaza after the end of the hostilities.

Shtayyeh will remain in his position as a caretaker until a new premier is announced.

Maliki assured that Hamas will not be part of the new government so as to avoid a boycott by many in the international community. “We don’t want to be in a situation like that. We want to be accepted and engage fully with the international community,” he said.

Israel has opposed a possible PA return to Gaza after it was booted from the Strip by Hamas in a bloody coup in 2007, and has insisted that the IDF will maintain military control of the enclave after the war is over.

Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK, said in an interview with The Guardian this week that the purpose of the Moscow talks is for the PA to conduct consultations with Hamas, which enjoys widespread support among the Palestinian population, before the formation of a technocratic government aided by Qatar and Egypt.

A Hamas official quoted by the Russian news agency Tass comments on the ongoing talks in the Russian capital, saying that the factions “underscore the need for national unity to do away with the occupation and confront the external forces supporting it, especially the United States, and in order to exercise the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to establish their own independent state.”

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