Volume. 11980

Hamas frees all Fatah prisoners in Gaza
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c_330_235_16777215_0___images_stories_edim_Hamas99.jpgThe Palestinian prime minister of the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh, signed a decree on Monday providing for the release of all prisoners affiliated with Fatah in Gaza.

According to the Middle East Monitor, sources close to Hamas said that the Fatah members who will be freed as per Hamas's decision include eight prisoners who were held for "security offences", while two prisoners will remain in prison until the completion of the community reconciliation, which is related to the victims of the infighting that left around 500 people dead and hundreds wounded.

The Hamas government has always denied the presence of political prisoners affiliated with Fatah in its jails since the internal divisions deepened after it took control of the Strip in June 2007, and points out that although some prisoners held in its prisons do belong to Fatah, they are in prison for "security and criminal offences", not for political reasons.

A leading member of Hamas's political bureau, Moussa Abu Marzouk, said that the decree reflects Hamas's commitment to completing the reconciliation agreement and ending the internal Palestinian divisions.

In a press statement, Abu Marzouk also revealed that he called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas while the latter was in Doha, Qatar and they agreed a delegation from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), headed by Azzam Al-Ahmad, would visit the Strip early next week to discuss the formation of a national consensus government.

Abu Marzouk stressed that Hamas is working hard and with sincerity to get the Palestinian people and all the different Palestinian factions and institutions out of the current state of division, possibly through a unified political platform under the umbrella of the PLO.

He added that Hamas is seeking to make sure that "there is a one national platform, a comprehensive national platform. We are working toward enabling the Palestinian people to have one president, one legislative council and one government."

Abu Marzouk also affirmed that Fatah demonstrates sincere intentions towards the reconciliation: "Everyone is working for the unification of institutions, regulations and legal systems - because what is happening in Gaza is different from what is happening in the West Bank. This is what we are seeking in the context of the Palestinian unity."

European support for unity deal

Meanwhile, the foreign ministers of Italy, Ireland and Luxembourg, along with the EU's top diplomat, announced Sunday their strong and distinct support for the Palestinian reconciliation agreement, Secretary-General of the Palestinian National Initiative Mustafa Barghouti said.

According to Palestine's Al-Quds newspaper, Barghouti praised the European countries for their support, adding that the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton has also expressed support for the agreement.

 U.S. to re-launch peace talks

In another development, U.S. State Department announced Sunday that senior U.S. officials are planning to visit Israel in the near future after the collapse of peace talks with the Palestinians.

The department denied reports that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has decided to dismantle the U.S. negotiating team in Jerusalem in an effort to push the peace process forward.

The department also confirmed that U.S. envoy to the peace talks Martin Indyk has returned to Washington after the negotiations hit an impasse last month.

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