London, Asharq al-Awsat- An official from the Change and Reform bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council has stated the remarks by Hamas’s Mahmud al-Zahar concerning the Doha declaration and designation of President Mahmud Abbas, to form a transitional national accord government reflects the Hamas Movement Political Bureau member’s personal opinion.
Ahmad Attun, an MP representing Jerusalem who Israeli officials expelled from the city due his ties with Hamas, said that the decision of signing the Doha declaration will remain valid and binding on all parties, in spite of varying stands on it within the movement.
Attun pointed out that he was not speaking in the name of Hamas, but as an MP in the legislative council (from the Change and Reform bloc). Hamas and its supporters ran in the legislative elections of 2006 as part of this bloc. Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said that the reports on on-going consultations within the movement’s leadership to take a stand on the declaration are untrue, even though discussions are continuing on the declaration’s legality.
Attun was commenting on a report by the Egyptian Middle East News Agency in which the agency quoted Al-Zahar as saying: “Hamas leaders both at home and abroad will hold consultations in the next two days to determine their stand on the Doha declaration and appointment of Palestinian President Abbas as head of the next government.” Al-Zahar also said that none of the movement leaders in Gaza and abroad was consulted on the appointment of Abbas as head of the next government. He added that the move to put President Abbas in charge of the situation is rejected outright and that it is a wrong and unacceptable step from the strategic point of view.
This is the first time a senior official in the movement politically rejects the declaration, even though the figures who oppose the declaration focus on the legal aspects. They deny political disagreement and assert their adherence to the declaration because it was signed by the top leader of the movement.
Al-Zahar’s statements show a genuine disagreement within the movement on political issues, including this one, even though many Hamas leaders deny the disagreement.
However, this is not the first time Al-Zahar has made sensational statements critical of Political Bureau Chief Khalid Mishal’s stands. During the signing ceremony of the Cairo agreement on 4 May last year, Mishal made statements on giving negotiations another chance and accepting a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders. But Al-Zahar’s criticism of Mishal’s statements forced the Hamas Movement, in an unusual move, to issue an official statement in the name of its political bureau asserting that Al-Zahar’s remarks represent himself and not the movement.
At the time, the movement’s political bureau ordered a series of penalties on Al-Zahar, including a threat to suspend his membership of the political bureau. These penalties were lifted only recently.
According to reports, Al-Zahar said that the Hamas leaders both at home and abroad will hold consultations in the next couple of days to determine their view on the Doha declaration and appointment of President Mahmud Abbas as head of the next government. He added that none of the movement leaders in Gaza or abroad was consulted on the appointment of President Abbas as head of this government. He noted: “The move to put President Abbas in charge of the situation is rejected outright. It is a wrong and unacceptable step from the strategic point of view.” By making this statement, he accuses Mishal of taking decisions unilaterally, even though most of the movement leaders announced their support for the declaration and said they will comply with it.
It should be noted that Musa Abu-Marzuq, deputy chief of the Hamas Political Bureau, who recently moved to Cairo to reside there, clearly and openly opposes the Doha declaration.
Attun said what happened in Doha was a decision taken by the movement’s political bureau and consultative institutions. He noted that the critics of the legality of the decision asserted their adherence to the higher leadership body’s decision in spite of their personal reservations about it. He added that what is happening within the movement is natural and healthy. He explained that Hamas is governed by institutional rather than individual decisions.
Attun said: “Brother Mishal went to Doha under a political decision within specific criteria, not under an individual decision.”
Attun was asked on the possibility of backing down on the Doha declaration, in light of Al-Zahar’s statement that the Hamas leaders both at home and abroad will hold consultations in the next couple of days to decide their view on the declaration. He replied: “No. There will be no backing down on the Doha declaration. As I said, the position of the Doha declaration is at the top of the movement’s political pyramid.”
Attun tried to impart a positive note to Al-Zahar’s statement by saying that his statement on consultations on the applications of the declaration is true. However, when Attun was told that Al-Zahar was talking about consultations to determine a stand on the declaration, he said: “This is part of Mahmud al-Zahar’s opinion. As for that decision, which is binding on all parties, it was taken by the political leadership, even though there may be varying views on it.”
Attun said: “We will not renege on the agreement, and we are committed to all agreements.” He noted that the Doha agreement brought nothing new and, in fact, it is a copy of the Mecca agreement of 2007.
Commenting on what was described as statement by the parliamentary Change and Reform bloc that cast doubt on the legality of the Doha declaration, Attun said what was issued was not a statement but an explanatory legal point of view to ensure that no one will say in the future that a parliamentary bloc allowed the law to be violated and legalized this violation. He added: “However, they also said ‘we will respect the Palestinian understandings.'”