Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Fatah and Hamas movements agreed at the first session of the Palestinian national dialogue round held at present in Cairo to form a joint subcommittee at Egypt’s proposal to resolve the issue of political detainees which Hamas is making its ending a condition before signing any reconciliation agreement. The two delegations and Egyptian Intelligence Director Minister Omar Suleiman will meet later after the latter’s return from Saudi Arabia where he is accompanying President Hosni Mubarak during his visit.
Identical sources from Fatah and Hamas told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hamas was determined during this morning’s (yesterday) session to discuss only the issue of political detention and refused to discuss the other pending dossiers but the Egyptian officials proposed forming a subcommittee to resolve the issue of political detainees. They added that “we will continue the dialogue over the pending issues during the ongoing sixth round in Cairo and these are the elections law and the settlement rate, how to reorganize the security organs on professional bases, and the factional committee while the subcommittee determines the issue of political detention.”
Dr. Mahmud al-Zahhar told Asharq al-Awsat: The dialogue has made good progress inside the five committees (government, PLO, reconciliation, security, and elections) and only few issues remain but they are important ones. The Egyptian stand says agreement can be reached on 7 July and we say also we can reach agreement. But “events” happened which might delay the agreement and probably undermine it, especially the killing of Al-Qassam’s members and cadres in Qalqiliya and the measures to uproot establishments, charities, schools, and university teachers and students affiliated to Hamas.
He added: Egypt understood this fact completely and that what is happening in the West Bank is in fact hardening the internal division and disunity and therefore the Egyptian leadership demanded from Fatah to re-establish the committees which it had previously rejected. They agreed and the committees met in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to end the division but they did not reach a satisfactory result.
The Hamas leader went on to say: The reconciliation issue was over as well as the PLO one but these two issues are linked to the achievement of the remaining pending issues in the government, elections, and security committees. These three have simple issues that have not been resolved yet but they are important ones. In the elections issue, Fatah wants to enact a law that removes Hamas from the political stage and brings small factions into the world of political blackmail so as to adopt as much as possible the proportional representation so that Hamas cannot get more than 40 or 45 percent while the rest can be bought like it is happening in Israel and Italy where they do not care about the political results as much as reaching power. We are adhering to our stand on this point. Regarding the joint [security] force, this issued cropped up before us at the last meetings. Fatah wants a joint force in Gaza made up of the former security organs which follow the Fatah authority in everything and attach to it the Hamas security organs in Gaza. Fatah refused to have this proposal applied to the West Bank even the situations there are stable. This is unacceptable. On the joint factional committee, they want it to be affiliated to Abu-Mazin and to carry out its functions in Gaza through UNRWA, the Red Crescent, and the Fatah organizations while ignoring the results of the elections and the presence of Hamas as a government. This too is unacceptable. I believe that Egypt’s stand is clear, namely, that the parties have to deal with the fait accompli in Gaza whether Fatah accepts it or not. He added that in the issue of the Legislative Council, Fatah does not want to embarrass Israel and wants to deprive Hamas of the majority in the Council. This is not a nationalist stand. We were elected to represent the people for four years and will continue until this period ends. The Council will remain until new elections are held and a new council is formed.
On his part, Azzam al-Ahmad [member of Fatah delegation to dialogue] said “the political detention is the result of the division and not its cause. If the division ends, then this dossier will most certainly ends. We have 209 Fatah detainees in the Hamas movement’s jails in the Gaza Strip in addition to hundreds put under house arrest by Hamas.”
On the means for overcoming the pending issues, he said: “The Egyptians proposed drafting what was agreed on and signing the agreement ending the division in the presence of all the secretaries general of all the factions on 7 July.” He disclosed that there is an Egyptian proposal about the elections which is being examined based on a mixed system of 75 proportional representation, 25 percent districts, and 3 percent settlement rate. Regarding the joint security force, Al-Ahmad said the disagreement over it has continued since the start of the dialogue and expressed his hope that there would be anew proposal that would push it forward.