Hamas, Fatah begin Cairo talks to resolve disputes

Palestinian leaders have said Abbas intends to propose a three-year deadline for the end of the Israeli occupation

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Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah began talks in Cairo on Wednesday aimed at resolving internal disputes and reviving their unity government.

The two-day talks will focus on "the return (of the unity government) in the Gaza Strip and the implementation of its authority without obstacles," said the head of Fatah's delegation, Azzam al-Ahmad.

The talks come after a joint Palestinian delegation and Israel agreed to hold indirect talks in late October to thrash out a lasting truce in Gaza.

Under Egyptian mediation, Israel and the Palestinians agreed on August 26 to a ceasefire that ended a 50-day war between Hamas and Israeli forces.

But in order to negotiate with Israel in October, internal Palestinian divisions must be put aside and the two rival factions must agree on a unified strategy during talks with the Jewish negotiators.

The Palestinian rivals set up a unity government of independents in June but are at loggerheads again, with Abbas threatening to end the administration and accusing Hamas of running a "parallel government" as de facto ruler in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas in turn accuses Abbas's Palestinian Authority, headquartered in Ramallah, of not paying its 45,000 employees in Gaza.

The unity government is also crucial ahead of an international donor conference on October 12, to be hosted by Cairo, on the reconstruction of Gaza.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas Tuesday to discuss the situation in Gaza, 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 war with 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 U.S. diplomat also reiterated Washington's support for a two-state solution and its willingness to support negotiations.

Speaking Monday, Abbas drew parallels with the century-long U.S. struggle for civil rights, saying he was bringing a message of peace.

The veteran Palestinian leader is set to address the annual U.N. General Assembly on Friday.

Palestinian leaders have said Abbas intends to propose a three-year deadline for the end of the Israeli occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Kerry's high-profile bid to hammer out a full peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinian Authority collapsed spectacularly in April amid bitter recriminations on both sides, despite more than a year of shuttle diplomacy.

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