Hamas demands immunity from Israeli arrests as condition for Palestinian unity

Hamas demands immunity from Israeli arrests as condition for Palestinian unity

Fatah fumes at Islamists' new reconciliation demands

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Hamas has conditioned its reconciliation with rival Fatah on a number of Israeli guarantees, a senior Palestinian official said Friday.

Hamas is demanding that its West Bank leaders be granted immunity from Israeli arrests and freedom of movement throughout the West Bank. The Islamic movement also demands the inclusion of Jerusalem in the upcoming Palestinian elections, a condition Israel has previously rejected, Nabil Shaath, a Palestinian negotiator and member of Fatah’s central committee, told Ma’an news agency.

Hamas and Fatah have recently agreed to form a unity government led by Mahmoud Abbas. The agreement, signed in Qatar on February 6, charges Abbas with forming an interim technocrat government to prepare the ground for presidential and parliamentary elections later this year.

Shaath did not hide his frustration with Hamas’ new conditions.

“This is a condition that was not included in the [reconciliation] agreement,” Shaath told Ma’an. “If it were up to the Palestinian Authority we would have implemented it immediately, but who can force Israel?”

Shaath also provided a sneak preview to a dramatic letter addressed to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, outlining Palestinian conditions for future negotiations with Israel. The letter will be signed by Abbas and delivered to Israel within days, Shaath said.

Concerning the Palestinian’s next move, Shaath said that “all the options are open except armed confrontation [with Israel], which harms our people and we reject it.”

Shaath revealed that during the last round of meetings between Israel and the Palestinians, which took place in Amman, in January, Israel demanded to maintain a military presence in the Jordan Valley and the western section of the West Bank in a future peace deal, threatening to annex the territory unless the Palestinians consented.

If implemented, the Israeli demand would mean that the Palestinians lose 60% of the territory, Shaath said, “This would make a Palestinian state an impossibility.”

read more: