|Photo by: REUTERS/Thaer Ghanaim/PPO/Handout|
Hamas split over unity pact with Fatah
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
West Bank leaders welcome deal, but Gaza members say it violates law.
Divisions in Hamas over the Qatari-sponsored reconciliation agreement with Fatah
deepened on Thursday as representatives of the Islamist group issued conflicting
statements in response to the deal.
A day after Hamas officials in the
Gaza Strip issued a statement rejecting the agreement signed in Doha earlier
this week between the movement’s leader Khaled Mashaal and Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas representatives in the West Bank issued a
statement in support of the accord.
The unprecedented public split in
Hamas came amid reports that Mashaal had decided to settle in Qatar after he and
most of the movement’s leaders were forced to leave Syria.
Hamas’s Change and Reform List in the Gaza Strip criticized the reconciliation
pact, dubbed the Doha Declaration, saying it violated the Palestinian Basic
The list issued a statement, saying that after consulting with legal
experts and conducting a thorough examination of the accord, it had concluded
that Abbas’s appointment as prime minister of a unity government was in
violation of the Basic Law.
Members of the Hamas list in the Gaza Strip –
which consists of many of the movement’s prominent leaders and legislators –
called on the two parties to abide by the Palestinian Basic Law and reconsider
The legal department of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian
Legislative Council also rejected the Qatari-engineered agreement as
According to the Palestinian Basic Law, the
department said, Abbas could not hold the two positions of PA president and PA
prime minister simultaneously. The department pointed out that the legislature
had amended the Basic Law in 2003 to prevent a situation in which the president
also serves as prime minister.
However, Ismail Radwan, a Hamas spokesman
in the Gaza Strip, defended the idea of appointing Abbas as prime minister and
said the move was primarily designed to end the power struggle with
“This is not about choosing Abbas [as prime minister] or forming a
unity government as much as it is about ending the state of division [between
Hamas and Fatah],” Radwan said.
He also ruled out the possibility that
elections would be held in the Palestinian territories in May.
most of Gaza’s Hamas leadership came out against the reconciliation accord, the
movement’s West Bank representatives welcomed the agreement.
al-Amleh, a Hamas legislator in the West Bank, said on Thursday that although
the Qatari-brokered agreement was in violation of the Palestinian constitution,
the top priority should be to end the dispute with Fatah.
another Hamas legislator, expressed hope that the agreement would put an end to
divisions among Palestinians.
He said that despite the opposition in
Hamas over the agreement, the movement was not facing a
Palestinian political analysts said that with the apparent split,
it would be impossible to implement the agreement between Abbas and
Meanwhile, the London-based Asharq Alawsat newspaper reported on
Thursday that the Hamas leadership had decided to leave Syria permanently in
light of the growing anarchy there. The paper said Hamas leaders no longer felt
safe as the violence spread to Damascus.