Emboldened by the military coup in Egypt, a senior Fatah official is threatening “painful decisions” against Hamas in a bid to end the political divide that has separated Gaza from the West Bank since 2007.
Azzam Al-Ahmad, head of the Fatah delegation to reconciliation talks with Hamas, told Palestinian radio station Mawtini on Thursday that his movement “will not remain captive to Hamas” and has begun discussing “clear and painful moves” against the Islamist group, which he would not specify.
“We must take decisive action to end the current divide which Hamas is trying to impose over everyone in the Gaza Strip,” Ahmad said.
Egypt under Mohammed Morsi served as the main broker of reconciliation talks, usually held in Cairo. A meeting between the sides was meant to take place on June 30 but was canceled by the new Egyptian regime.
Ahmad said he’d contacted Hamas’s deputy political bureau chief Moussa Abu Marzouq in order to reschedule the meeting, but Abu Marzouq never returned his call, initiating instead an arrest campaign against Fatah members in Gaza and accusing Fatah of fabricating news stories against Hamas.
Fatah Central Committee member Mahmoud Al-Aloul confirmed to The Times of Israel that new ideas were being floated about the proper way to end the political divide, but would not elaborate on them. Azzam Al-Ahmad was not available for comment.
Responding to Ahmad’s tacit threat, Hamas official Salah Barawil said that Fatah was the first to undermine reconciliation efforts by deciding to negotiate with Israel.
He offered an array of possibilities open to Fatah for confronting Hamas, including deepening the blockade of Gaza in cooperation with Israel, declaring the West Bank officially detached from the Gaza Strip, and holding elections in the West Bank alone.
Fatah’s newfound boldness toward Hamas seems to be a direct result of the military coup in Egypt, which dealt a serious blow to Hamas’s regional standing. Ahmad himself admitted that Fatah’s decision was contingent upon developments in Egypt.
“Certainly Fatah is awaiting the fate of the Islamic movement to increase its isolation and politically marginalize Islam,” Bardawil said, calling Ahmad’s statements “political deception.”