Hamas for reconciliation deal delay

GAZA CITY : Hamas has asked Egypt to delay the signing of a Palestinian reconciliation deal that Cairo had announced for later this month, a source within the Islamist group ruling Gaza said on Wednesday.

Hamas "asked Egypt to postpone the session for the signature of the agreement," the source told AFP, asking not to be named.

The delay was requested because of the controversial decision by the Palestinian delegation at the UN Human Rights Council to drop its backing for an immediate vote on a damning report on the Gaza war, he said.

The UN report, authored by respected South African judge Richard Goldstone, accused Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes during the 22-day war.

On Friday, the Geneva-based council decided to defer a vote on the report until March after the Palestinian delegation agreed to the move, reportedly under US pressure.

Hamas has been at the forefront of criticism levelled at Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, the leader of the rival Fatah faction, who has faced a storm of criticism for the move both at home and across the Arab world.