Hamas is preparing to incorporate 3,000 Palestinian Authority security men from the West Bank into its Gaza apparatus, a Hamas official has announced. He also referred to a previously unknown “security clause” in the agreement with Fatah criminalizing security coordination with Israel.
Abdul Salam Siyam, secretary general of the Hamas government in Gaza, told Palestinian media that Hamas’s security agencies will remain intact pending the formation of a new unity government in June.
“The government and the [Hamas] movement in Gaza have taken a strategic decision to move forward with reconciliation and create necessary conditions for its implementation,” Siyam said in a press statement Sunday.
“In [the agreement], there is a clause referring to the security situation with many details, some of which touch on the security doctrine, criminalizing security cooperation [with Israel], and administrative arrangements for the return [to Gaza] of 3,000 security personnel belonging to Ramallah. The security situation in the Gaza Strip will remain as it is in the interim period,” read the statement, published in the Hamas daily Felesteen.
The official reconciliation statement published in April made no reference to a “security clause” dealing with PA cooperation with Israel, which has remained tight in recent years. Independent Palestinian businessman Munib al-Masri, a member of the PLO delegation to talks with Hamas, told The Times of Israel that no reference was made to dealings with Israel during the talks.
“Anything said by Hamas officials other than [deputy political bureau chief] Moussa Abu Marzouk is not credible,” Masri said. “Don’t believe rumors.”
Palestinian security coordination with Israel had been a significant sticking point in relations between Fatah and Hamas prior to the reconciliation agreement ratified by the sides on April 23.
On Monday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas met with Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal in Qatar to discuss the details of a unity government, expected to comprise non-politically-affiliated technocrats and headed by Abbas.
Ziad Abu Ain, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, told Hamas daily Al-Resalah that the meeting between the two leaders — the first since January 2013 — is “pivotal and important.”
“I hope that the coming hours will bring positive change and effective measures on the ground in implementing the recent reconciliation agreement ” Abu Ain told the daily on Monday morning, ahead of the Abbas-Mashaal meeting.
Such measures were indeed underway in Gaza. Jerusalem-based daily Al-Quds reported that Hamas has allowed distribution of the paper in the Gaza Strip effective Monday, implementing the agreement with Fatah on freedom of the press. Ihab Ghosein, a spokesman for the Hamas government, told Al-Quds that a number of political detainees, likely from Fatah, will be released from prison in Gaza in the coming days.
Fatah, for its part, seemed less sanguine about the reconciliation with Hamas, with no indication of reciprocal measures regarding press freedom in the West Bank or any immediate release of Hamas detainees.
Ahmad Assaf, a spokesman for Fatah, lashed out Monday at unspecified “negative statements by Hamas leaders and spokespeople on Twitter over the past few days,” accusing them in a radio interview of “perpetuating the coup and division mentality.”
Assaf referred to a Hamas statement accusing Fatah of ceding 78 percent of historic Palestine to Israel.
“The Palestinian people enjoy a strong memory,” the Fatah spokesman was quoted by official Wafa news agency as saying. “They know exactly how Hamas gave up 99 percent of historic Palestine, agreeing to establish its own emirate on the Gaza Strip — which comprises less than 1 percent of historic Palestine — in return for its ability to rule.”