A senior Hamas official called Sunday to dismantle the Palestinian unity government led by Fatah and Hamas and to set up a new government in its place, citing the Palestinian leadership’s failure to advance the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip following this year’s summer war between the Islamist group and Israel.
“We are calling for an alternate national unity government which will fulfill its obligations to the Palestinian people,” Ismail Radwan said, the Egyptian Al-Ahram newspaper reported.
Radwan noted that the unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah, which was signed in Cairo on June 2, states that presidential, parliamentary and provincial elections must be called within six months of the coalition taking form.
“We have almost reached the [six month] mark,” Radwan said.
Radwan added that the unity government did not succeed in ending Israel’s blockade on the Strip, and said that if steps were not taken to dissolve the government, Hamas would be forced to explore alternative options. Radwan did not elaborate any further, but concluded that “Palestinian unity is necessary in order to exit the [Gaza] crisis.”
Tensions between Hamas and Fatah soared after at least 10 explosions rocked the Gaza Strip earlier this month in an apparent attack against houses and cars belonging to senior Fatah members. No casualties were reported in the bombings, and Hamas denied responsibility for the attacks, but Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement said it held the Islamist group accountable. Hamas also forced the cancellation of a planned event last week to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of Abbas’s predecessor, Yasser Arafat.
“The Fatah central committee condemns the crimes which took place against its leaders and lays the responsibility for these crimes upon Hamas,” senior Fatah official Nasser al-Qidwa told a news conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah last week.
Hussein al-Sheikh, another member of the Fatah leadership, said he had “no doubt of the fact that Hamas bears the responsibility for what happened to Fatah leaders in Gaza.”
Hamas later detained a man it said was suspected of being behind the wave of bombings.
Adiv Sterman contributed to this report.