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Fatah, Hamas agree to form interim government, hold vote

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GAZA (Reuters) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement and its bitter rival, the Islamist Hamas, struck a deal on Wednesday to form an interim unity government and fix a date for general election, both sides said.

The deal, which took many officials by surprise because of profound Fatah-Hamas divisions over how to resolve generations of conflict with Israel, was thrashed out in Egypt and followed a series of secret meetings.

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“The two sides signed initial letters on an agreement. All points of differences have been overcome,” Taher Al-Nono, the Hamas government spokesman in Gaza, told Reuters. He added that Cairo would shortly invite both sides to a signing ceremony.

The accord was first reported by Egypt’s intelligence service, which brokered the talks.

In a statement carried by the Egyptian state news agency MENA, the intelligence service said the deal was hatched by a Hamas delegation led by Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of the group’s politburo, and Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad.

“The consultations resulted in full understandings on all points of discussions, including setting up an interim agreement with specific tasks and to set a date for election,” the statement said.

It said the agreement would allow Egypt to invite all Palestinian factions to sign a national reconciliation agreement in Cairo in the next few days.

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Restoring Palestinian unity is seen as crucial to reviving any prospect for a Palestinian state based on peaceful co-existence alongside Israel. Fatah, the mainstream Palestinian movement until a 2006 election victory by Hamas, backs negotiated peace but the Islamists reject it.

Al-Ahmad and Abu Marzouk said the agreement covered all points of contention, including forming a transitional government, security arrangements and the restructuring of the Palestine Liberation Organization to allow Hamas to join it.

A senior Egyptian intelligence official told Reuters that he expected Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who is based in Damascus, to attend the signing of the agreement in Cairo.

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(Reporting by Marwa Awad and Ayman Samir; Writing by Sami Aboudi and Crispian Balmer; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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George Conway reveals Trump is being shunned by law firms because young lawyers ‘want nothing to do with him’

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Conservative attorney George Conway asserted in a column over the weekend that President Donald Trump's history of mistreating law firms is catching up with him.

In a Sunday op-ed for The Washington Post, Conway explains that Trump is now faced with sparse choices for legal representation in his impeachment trial after years of not paying attorneys and generally being a bad client.

Pointing to Trump's choice of Alan Dershowitz and Kenneth Starr, Conway writes:

?The president has consistently encountered difficulty in hiring good lawyers to defend him. In 2017, after Robert S. Mueller III became special counsel, Trump couldn’t find a high-end law firm that would take him as a client. His reputation for nonpayment preceded him: One major Manhattan firm I know had once been forced to eat bills for millions in bond work it once did for Trump. No doubt other members of the legal community knew of other examples.

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Texas GOPer Cornyn blames Trump’s problems on campaign ‘grifters’ — then calls Giuliani ‘not relevant’

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Appearing on CBS's “Face the Nation," Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) attempted to blame Donald Trump's impeachment problems on "grifters" who found a way to attach themselves to the now-president when he began to run for president.

Speaking with host Margaret Brennan, Cornyn was asked about allegations made by Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas that have implicated not only the president but Vice President Mike Pence and senior White House officials in an attempt to strongarm the leaders of Ukraine in return for military aid.

"Doesn't it trouble you that [Parnas] was working so closely with Rudy Giuliani, who was acting on the president's behalf and saying he was acting on the president's behalf?" host Brennan asked. "

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‘No sound basis’: Georgetown law professor explains why Alan Dershowitz will crumble under Senate questioning

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Georgetown law professor John Mikhail suggested on Sunday that the portion of President Donald Trump's defense which is being covered by Alan Dershowitz to fail because it has "no sound basis" in history and law.

"There is no sound basis for Alan Dershowitz to claim that abuse of power is not an impeachable offense. In addition to being at odds with common sense, this claim is contradicted by a clear and consistent body of historical evidence," Mikhail stated.

The law professor cited the impeachment of Warren Hastings in the 1780s.

"Some of the best evidence comes from the case of Warren Hastings, which informed the drafting Art. II, Sec 4," Mikhail wrote. "The fact that he was not guilty of treason, but still deserved to be impeached, was a major reason 'other high crimes and misdemeanors' was added to the Constitution."

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