JERUSALEM (JTA) — Palestinian factions met in Cairo for unity talks.
The meeting Thursday included about a dozen Palestinian groups. The main parties — Fatah, which comprises the Palestinian Authority and runs the West Bank, and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip — met first on Wednesday, when they agreed to release each others members from their prisons.
The dialogue could lead to a national unity government and then to new presidential and parliamentary elections.
Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman told the opening session of the dialogue that Egypt hopes the meeting "is the real start of a new period ending the state of division which has gone on too long."
"Everyone is looking towards you … and hanging their hopes on you," he said. "So do not prolong the disagreement and deepen the division. Unite ranks to fulfill the hopes of all for an independent Palestinian state."
The conference came about as part of Egypt’s proposal for a Hamas cease-fire with Israel.