salam fayyad_311 reuters.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Abed Omar Qusini)
The Egyptian-brokered reconciliation accord between Hamas and Fatah suffered a major setback on Sunday when the Islamist movement announced its opposition to the appointment of current Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as head of a new Palestinian unity government.
Hamas’s announcement came in response to a decision over the weekend by the Fatah Central Committee to back Fayyad’s nomination as premier.
'Abbas to Egypt: Convince Hamas to accept Fayyad as PM'
Palestinians believe Fayyad is the man for the job
Hamas said it was strongly opposed to Fayyad’s nomination mainly because he was responsible for plunging the Palestinian Authority into deep debts.
Salah Bardaweel, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, likened Fayyad to the khedive of Egypt, Ismail Pasha, who ruled from 1863 until he was removed at the behest of the British in 1879.
The khedive’s policies and economic measures left Egypt in deep debt to the European powers and forced it to sell its Suez Canal shares to the British government.
“The debts that Fayyad left are similar to those incurred by the khedive of Egypt,” said Bardaweel. “Fayyad has hurt the Palestinian people on both security and economic levels.”
The Hamas official said that Fayyad was also responsible for the arrest of Hamas supporters in the West Bank, and for the firing of many civil servants for political reasons.
He added that Hamas was opposed not only to Fayyad heading the proposed unity government, but also to his holding any ministerial post, including finance minister.
Another obstacle that is hindering the implementation of the reconciliation pact is the continued security crackdown by PA security forces on Hamas supporters in the West Bank.
Hamas leaders said that they would raise the issue during the Cairo talks on Tuesday and would insist on the release of all “political prisoners” from PA jails.
They added that 19 university students from Nablus would go on trial before a PA security court this week on charges of conspiring to assassinate the PA governor of Nablus.
The defendants and Hamas have strongly denied the allegations.
Bardaweel said that it would be a mistake for the Palestinians to link the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation to financial aid from the US. “There are ways to search for sources of funding from Arabs and Muslims,” he said.
In another development, a delegation from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood organization arrived in the Gaza Strip on Sunday to offer condolences on the death of Hasan Shamah, one of the founders of Hamas.
The visit is the first of its kind since former president Hosni Mubarak stepped down earlier this year.