Efforts to end the ongoing power struggle between Hamas and Fatah have reached a
deadlock due to disagreements over several issues, including the holding of
presidential and parliamentary elections, Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip said
Despite the talk about an impasse, however, Hamas leader Khaled
Mashaal was quoted as saying that he was optimistic about the prospects of
ending the rivalry with Fatah.
The contradictory statements are a sign of
divisions among the Hamas leadership over the reconciliation process with
Earlier this year, Mashaal and Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas signed yet another reconciliation pact, this time under the
auspices of Qatar.
The latest agreement, dubbed the Doha Accord,
envisages the establishment of a Palestinian government headed by Abbas and
dominated by technocrats and independent figures. The government is supposed to
prepare for holding long overdue presidential and parliamentary elections in the
The Doha Accord drew sharp criticism from most
Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip, who complained that Mashaal did not consult
with them before signing the deal.
In recent weeks Hamas and Fatah
announced that they were closer than ever to reaching agreement on the
implementation of the Doha Accord. Hamas even permitted the Palestinian
Elections Commission to start registering voters in the Gaza Strip – a move that
both parties described as a major breakthrough.
They both also claimed
that they had made progress in efforts to form a new cabinet that would consist
mostly of technocrats.
Last week, however, Hamas abruptly decided to
suspend the work of the elections commission in the Gaza Strip, dealing a severe
blow to reconciliation efforts.
On Sunday, Abbas said the decision to
suspend the work of the commission would hinder efforts to end the dispute with
Hamas justified the decision by saying it had good reason to
believe that Fatah was planning to steal the vote.
Hamas officials also
cited security coordination between the PA and Israel in the West Bank as
another reason for the suspension.
Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas official
in Gaza who is strongly opposed to Mashaal’s rapprochement with Fatah, said the
continued PA security clampdown on his movement’s supporters in the West Bank
was an indication that the planned elections would not be fair and
Zahar also claimed that Mashaal and Abbas had agreed to form a
unity government and not a cabinet dominated by independent figures.
an interview with the Algerian newspaper Al-Shurouk, Zahar accused the PA
leadership in the West Bank of working with Israel and the US to forge the next
elections to prevent Hamas from winning.
“The elections are a big
deception,” he remarked.
Zahar also charged the elections commission with
colluding with Fatah to falsify the results of the vote. He said commission
officials had failed to register voters whom they believed were affiliated with
In the West Bank, Zahar added, no Hamas candidate would dare run
in an election because he or she would be arrested either by Israel or by the
Fatah-controlled security forces.
The Hamas leader also boasted that his
government was able to pay salaries to civil servants while the PA in the West
Bank was facing a severe financial crisis.
“The debts of the Palestinian
Authority are the result of corruption,” Zahar said. “We have been able to pay
salaries although we don’t receive financial aid from the Americans, Europeans
or even the Arab countries.”
Ismail Radwan, a spokesman for Hamas in the
Gaza Strip, said the PA security crackdown on Hamas supporters in the West Bank
was one of the main reasons behind the failure of the Doha Accord. The elections
commission would be allowed to resume its work in Gaza only if Abbas stopped
pursuing Hamas supporters and abided by the Qatari-sponsored agreement, he
But Mashaal, who is currently visiting Jordan, told reporters in
Amman that efforts to achieve reconciliation with Fatah had made significant
progress, especially with regard to the formation of a unity
He said efforts were under way to arrange another meeting
between him and Abbas to discuss ways of overcoming obstacles hindering
implementation of the Doha Accord.