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Hamas and Fatah Still at Loggerheads - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Officials of the Palestinian opposition factions in Damascus have revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat their plans to hold a Palestinian national conference on 23 January to discuss the issue of the Palestinian refugees and Palestinian national rights.

The officials said that most Palestinian factions will attend the conference but that the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine will not attend. They pointed out that it is likely that the Fatah Movement, which has received an invitation, will attend the meeting.

Muhammad Nazzal, member of Hamas ‘ Political Bureau told Asharq al-Awsat that Fatah has not yet responded to the proposals that Khalid Mishal submitted to Saudi leaders, which consist of six major points, to solve the dispute between Fatah and Hamas, but that they expect them to do so.

Nazzal added that the Palestinian opposition factions’ conference is meeting under the banner of “Confronting the Schemes to Terminate the Palestinian Cause” and will discuss the basic issues of the right of return, Jerusalem, the refugees, the borders, and the Palestinian state.

He said that invitations were sent out to all Palestinian factions including Fatah.

He added: “So far we do not know if Fatah will participate but other factions have already said they will.”

He explained that among the factions that will participate are Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, Al-Saiqah, and other groups and independent personalities.”

Nazzal denied that the factions’ Damascus conference is being held to coincide with Bush’s visit to the Middle East, explaining that “the timing is unintentional.”

Nazzal went on to say that, “the conference will be held a few days after Bush’s arrival in the region. Originally we wanted to hold it last November but then it was postponed.”

He said that the Damascus conference is not a substitute for the conference that will be held in Tehran and said: “The Damascus conference is not the same as the Tehran conference. The Iranians invited the secretaries general of the Palestinian factions to visit Tehran. The invitation still stands and we still have to set a date for the visit.”

The Palestinian official pointed out that the dialogue between Hamas and Fatah is still stumbling and said that Abbas had set” impossible conditions” to resume talking. He summarized Fatah’s conditions in the following points:

– Hamas should return the security offices and all the files and documents they contain to the Palestinian Presidency.

– Hamas should apologize to the Palestinian people for the” alleged coup.”

– Hamas should recognize Salam Fayyad’s government.

– Hamas should accept all the decrees that Abbas and Fayyad’s government passed in the past few months.

– Hamas should commit itself to all the agreements that the Palestinian National Authority signed.

Nazzal said that these conditions have ensured that the national reconciliation negotiations will fail before they have even begun. He asked, “If Hamas accepts all these conditions, then what is the need for a dialogue at all? Abbas knows that Hamas will never accept these conditions. He set them on purpose to ensure failure and then he would blame the failure on the other side.”

He explained that during the talks that Khalid Mishal recently held in Saudi Arabia, Hamas submitted its view on the national reconciliation process, which consists of six basic points:

-Maintaining the Palestinian people’s unity in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and refraining from dividing these two territories.

-Rebuilding the Palestinian security services and selecting their personnel on professional and nationalist foundations, not on a factional basis.

-Respecting legally elected Palestinian bodies.

-Salam Fayyad’s government should resign and a national unity government should be formed.

-Honoring the agreements that were signed by the Palestinian factions including the 2005 Cairo Declaration, the 2006 National Accord Document, and the 2007 Mecca Agreement.

-Halting all media campaigns between the two sides.

Nazzal said that a direct dialogue between Fatah and Hamas will pave the way for going into details. He pointed out that the Fatah Movement has not yet responded to the view that Khalid Mishal submitted to the Saudi leaders to solve the dispute between Fatah and Hamas and expressed his belief that Abbas’ visit to Saudi Arabia last week would bring a PA response to Mishal’s proposals.

He added that, “Saudi Arabia is making a new effort and I hope that Abbas will respond to it. I hope that he will allow the national interest to preponderate.”

Nazzal said that, “Saudi Arabia is the party that can properly assess the situation and evaluate the prospects of solving this dispute.”

Meanwhile a senior Islamic Jihad source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah are moving too slowly and have not actually made any progress despite Mishal’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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