President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal will meet in Cairo this week despite the unrest rocking Egypt, Hamas and Fatah officials said on Tuesday.There's one missing ingredient in this meeting - the Hamas leadership from Gaza!
Egypt has been shaken in recent days by renewed protests calling for the ruling military council to step aside and allow an interim civilian government to take power.
But officials of the rival parties said the unrest would not derail a planned meeting between Mashaal and Abbas later this week.
The talks will go ahead "as scheduled on Thursday," Hamas official Ismail Radwan told AFP in Gaza, in remarks which were confirmed by senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad.
The two leaders are due to finalize details of a reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas which was signed in May but has yet to be implemented.
There has been friction for years between the Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Meshal and the Gaza-based Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud al-Zahar. And while the "unity" meeting between Meshal and Abbas is grabbing headlines, Gaza's Hamas leaders are making noises that could result in their effectively torpedoing any agreement.
Palestine Press Agency reports that Zahar is questioning the possibility of a breakthrough in Cairo, and saying that Hamas in Gaza would insist on guarantees that a reconciliation agreement would be implemented. "Otherwise, the entire reconciliation will fail."
"From my experience with Abu Mazen [Abbas], it would be wrong to be optimistic (...) He was forced to reconciliation when doors were slammed in his face and he had no choice but to reconcile," he said.
He says that Abbas reneged on agreements made last May and he wants guarantees that it will not happen again, even if it means Egyptian and other observers on the scene.