Hamas founder: Palestinian unity serves peace process

Hamas founder: Palestinian unity serves peace process

Sheikh Hassan Yousef says government of technocrats, with no Hamas or Fatah members, will be established following reconciliation

Avi Issacharoff

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.

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.

Sheikh Hassan Yousef (screen capture: YouTube)
Sheikh Hassan Yousef (screen capture: YouTube)

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.

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