Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi will host a summit in Cairo on Wednesday between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal. The purpose of the meeting is to advance the implementation of a unity accord between Fatah (Abbas' faction) and Hamas, signed last May and mediated by Egypt's intelligence chief.
Reports of the three-way summit are based on senior sources in the Gaza-based Hamas government who are currently in Egypt with Mashaal.
Abbas, who met with U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East Ambassador David Hale in Jordan until the late hours of Tuesday night, planned to arrive in Cairo on Wednesday. A statement released by Morsi's office said the Egyptian president was slated to meet Abbas in the afternoon. It wasn't stated whether Mashaal would be present at that meeting.
Against the backdrop of warming relations with Hamas and inter-Palestinian reconciliation efforts, Fatah marked the 48th anniversary of its establishment with a rally in Gaza City last Friday attended by thousands of supporters.
The rally was the first to be held by Fatah in the Gaza Strip since Hamas took over the territory in 2007. On Friday, Hamas allowed, for the first time, photos of Abbas to be placed alongside pictures of former Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.
The Hamas-approved rally marks a renewed attempt by the rival Palestinian factions to unify, following a fierce Hamas battle with Israel during Operation Pillar of Defense in November and Fatah's subsequent successful recognition bid at the United Nations later that month.
Many obstacles still remain before the sides can settle their differences, chief among them how to deal with Israel. Several rounds of reconciliation talks in recent years have centered on finding ways to share power, yet all have failed to yield results.
Friday's rally also served as a reminder of the conflicts within Fatah itself that continue to dog the movement: Officials canceled the event halfway through after 20 people were injured due to overcrowding and shoving matches that erupted between different Fatah factions.
Yahiya Rabah, a top Fatah official in Gaza, said the rally was canceled "due to the huge number of participants and logistical failures."
Witnesses said one pushing match was between supporters of Abbas and partisans of Fatah's former Gaza security commander, Mohammed Dahlan, who was expelled from the party because of conflicts with Abbas.
Another Fatah official, who spoke anonymously because he did not want to embarrass the party, said the rally was canceled because hundreds of Dahlan supporters jumped onto the stage and clashed with Abbas supporters.