CAIRO, May 17 (Reuters) - The Fateh
movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
and its Islamist rival Hamas
ended two days of talks in Cairo on Tuesday without reaching a deal on setting up a new government.
But officials said the two sides had exchanged names of possible candidates for the position of prime minister and cabinet to run the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, instead of two separate administrations now running the two areas.
The choice of the next prime minister to lead the unity government could be crucial for winning Western support for the reconciliation deal signed earlier this month in Cairo.
Hamas and Fateh had agreed that the unity government should consist of independent technocrats. Western-backed Salam Fayyad
, who heads the West Bank government appointed by Abbas, is a leading candidate for the post.
As far as forming the government, the two sides submitted their candidates from independents for each ministry, and their candidate for prime minister, Hamas politburo member, Izzat al-Rishq, said in a statement after the talks.
These proposals will be studied by each party and with (other) Palestinian factions so there will be a government of national consensus, he added.
Sources close to the talks said that Fateh and Hamas agreed to submit names of four candidates for each post, including that of the prime minister, to discuss before the next meeting in 10 days. One of the candidates will be chosen at the next meeting in Cairo, they said.
One source said Fateh negotiators at the meeting have nominated Fayyad. Hamas refused to discuss his nomination. But Palestinian analysts say Hamas might agree to Fayyad leading the unity government in exchange for the Islamist group being allowed to join Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organization.
Fateh officials in the West Bank have refused to discuss their candidates for prime minister. But Hussein al-Sheikh, a member of the Fatah Central Committee told Palestine Television on Tuesday there should be no veto against anyone.
Egypt earlier this month brokered the reconciliation deal between Fateh and Hamas which ended a four-year rift. Israel denounced the accord.
The split has hindered their quest to achieve a Palestinian state based on land captured by Israel in 1967.
The Cairo talks were headed by Fateh Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmed and by Hamas's deputy politburo head, Moussa Abu Marzook.
State news agency MENA quoted Ahmed as saying before Tuesday's session that the talks had focused on a number of issues, including the formation of the government, the release of prisoners and unifying security forces.
These topics require timetables and mechanisms to implement. Both sides have agreed on most of these subjects and will continue talks today, MENA quoted ah-Ahmed as saying.
(Reporting Khaled Oweis in Amman, Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza and Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)