Fatah and Hamas leaders, who met in Damascus Friday evening, have agreed on several disputed points in the Egyptian reconciliation document, according to a joint statement released after the meeting.
According to the statement, read to reporters by Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouq, the sides also laid out a plan to continue talks, and a series of meetings in the near future where issues remaining unresolved would be discussed.
"Talks were held in friendly and brotherly atmosphere showing a true will to end rivalry," Abu Marzouq said during a news conference, saying both Fatah and Hamas leaders participating in the effort had agreed on the mechanisms by which they hoped to reach reconciliation.
“Disputed items in the Egyptian reconciliation document were reviewed and agreement was reached on many of these points. There will be another meeting soon to discuss and agree on the rest of disputed items in order to reach a final draft to be approved by all Palestinian factions,” Abu Marzouq added.
Principal among the remaining disputes between the factions has been the issue of security forces: who would control forces where and mechanisms by which they would be unified in the event of reconciliation. The issue of a unity government and a timeline for elections has also been a sticking point, and time under the new government to build trust and rehabilitate Gaza was primary concern.
Heading the latest unity delegation for Fatah was Azzam Al-Ahmad, member of the movement’s top governing body, who expressed doubt ahead of his departure for Syria, saying "we will see what they have to offer."
For Hamas, head of the movement’s politburo in exile Khalid Mash'al, who is based in Damascus, lead talks.
According to Abu Marzouq, when a final agreement is reached, both sides will head to Cairo and sign the Egyptian document. The compromises reached in the current round of talks would be considered binding by both sides, and as amendments to the application of the unity document.
Fatah signed the Egyptian-mediated unity document in October 2009, though Hamas officials said there were issues in the document that they felt did not address concerns held by the party.
When Palestinian representatives attempted to have the issue of the Goldstone report on human rights and international law violations pulled from the UN Human Rights Council discussion later in the month, Hamas officials initially refused to sign the document in protest, saying the UN body must vote on the issue.