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Estrangement between Fatah and Hamas - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A gunman stands near a picture of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near the port city of Sidon. (R)

A gunman stands near a picture of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near the port city of Sidon. (R)

Gaza, Asharq Al-Awsat—In contrast to recent press reports that there are plans to begin meetings between the leaders of Fatah and Hamas to resume reconciliation efforts, informed Palestinian sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that there is still a deep rift between the two groups.

The sources noted that, with the exception of the period immediately following Hamas’s seizure of the Gaza Strip in 2007, the current breakdown in communication between the two parties is unprecedented.

The sources revealed that personal goodwill between the leaders of the two movements—especially between Azzam al-Ahmad, a member of the Fatah Central Committee and leader of the movement’s national dialogue delegation, and Musa Abu-Marzuq, deputy chief of the Hamas Movement Political Bureau—has diminished. The sources explained that relations worsened after a verbal altercation a few weeks ago between Ahmad and Aziz Duwaik, speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, when the former accused the latter of collaborating with Israel.

The sources stated that leading figures and grassroots supporters of Hamas have exerted heavy pressure on their political bureau chief, Khalid Mishal, not to allow the resumption of communication with Fatah until Ahmad apologizes to Duwaik.

The same sources have revealed that Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas is unenthusiastic about the prospect of renewed contact with Hamas on the eve of US President Barack Obama’s planned visit to Tel Aviv and Ramallah.

The sources also claimed that the internal situation in Egypt, and the Egyptian General Intelligence Service’s disregard for inter-Palestinian negotiations, have had a negative impact on reconciliation efforts. Following the latest meeting between leaders of the two Palestinian factions in Cairo, the Egyptians promised to send a delegation to both Ramallah and Gaza in an attempt to reconcile Fatah and Hamas’ views, and to bridge the gap with regards to all contentious issues, particularly the formation of a national unity government.

The sources warned that if disagreements over the formation of a national unity government are not resolved, there will be no hope of any successful dialogue between Fatah and Hamas. Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas believes that the next government should remain office for three months, after which there should be new parliamentary and presidential elections. However, Hamas remains adamant that it will not agree to hold elections before all issues relating to the inter-Palestinian dialogue have been resolved. These issues include restructuring the PLO, establishing a security agency based on “professional and nationalistic” foundations, and achieving societal reconciliation.

On a separate issue, Ghazi Hamad, deputy foreign minister for Hamas, denied that foreign delegations are planning to visit the Gaza Strip in order to impede reconciliation efforts.

Hamad recently appeared on Palestinian television, as organized by the Gaza government’s media office, saying, “We will reject any visit that intends to block the reconciliation efforts. Any delegation we receive will serve the interests of Palestinian unity.”

He added, “Even though we face a lot of obstacles on the grounds that Hamas has been placed on terrorism lists, and in spite of the 2007 division and its negative impact on foreign relations, we have been able to open up to many states.”

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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