Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one Hamas’s founders and still a prominent figure in the West Bank, told The Times of Israel on Thursday that there was an extraordinary consensus within the Hamas leadership on the need for reconciliation with Fatah.
“It will serve everyone,” he said, “the Palestinians and even the peace process.”
He added that the unity government to be established by his organization and Fatah would not feature any current Hamas or Fatah representatives, but would instead comprise professionals alone instead of politicians.
The agreement, announced in Gaza on Wednesday, calls for a technocratic unity government to be formed in the next five weeks and for elections to be called within six months after that. Aimed at ending seven years of animosity between the West Bank-based Fatah and the Gaza-based Hamas, it met with harsh reactions in Jerusalem and Washington.
Israeli officials responded to the unity deal with dismay and said that it would threaten the entire peace process due to Hamas’s absolute refusal to recognize the State of Israel. On Thursday top ministers met to formulate an Israeli response to the Palestinian internal reconciliation. The US said it was disappointed by the accord. “It’s hard to see how Israel can be expected to negotiate with a government that does not believe in its right to exist,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
According to Yousef, the establishment of a unity government under the authority of Mahmoud Abbas would grant the PA president greater political leeway.
He asserted that the agreement this time was different from the past because the two sides were more serious than ever.
As to the future of Hamas’s security apparatus in Gaza, Yousef said the topic would be discussed by a special committee being commissioned to address that issue and others.