Hamas-Fatah unity in death throes

Hamas-Fatah unity in death throes

Sides clash over details. PA negotiator: 'I do not believe, for one moment, that Hamas wants reconciliation'

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

Abbas and Mashaal meet in Cairo in February (photo credit: Mohammed al-Hums/Flash90)
Abbas and Mashaal meet in Cairo in February (photo credit: Mohammed al-Hums/Flash90)

The reconciliation process between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah is not likely to come to fruition this year, sources in Hamas told the Ma’an news agency Thursday.

“The reconciliation was off to a bad start and will not end well,” an unnamed Hamas official told the Bethlehem-based news agency. “We agree on the headlines and when we discuss the details the consensus disappears. The reconciliation is not being managed well.”

A Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement was ceremoniously signed in Cairo in April 2011, with both factions agreeing on parliamentary and presidential elections within months. That did not happen, and in February 2012 Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal agreed to appoint PA President Mahmoud Abbas as interim prime minister in a second bid to expedite elections.

But Gaza’s Hamas leaders, unlike their colleagues in exile, deeply mistrust Fatah due its political crackdown of Islamic activists in the West Bank, the official told Ma’an. The reconciliation was imposed on Hamas by Arab Spring countries, which made clear they would not cooperate with a divided Palestinian society, he added.

PA negotiator Yasser Abed Rabbo also expressed pessimism Thursday regarding the prospects of reconciliation. He told Palestine Radio that he “does not believe, for one moment, that Hamas’s leadership wants reconciliation.” Abed Rabbo added that only massive popular pressure can bring about change in the position of the Islamic movement.

“They want to rule their own state in the Gaza Strip, in their own way. This will end in tragedy, which is what Israel wants — to separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank,” Abed Rabbo said.

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