Efforts to end the crisis between Hamas and Fatah suffered a setback over the
weekend when Egypt announced that it won’t make any changes to its plan to
achieve reconciliation between the two parties.
Hamas said last week that
it would accept the Egyptian initiative only if Cairo agreed to make some
changes in it.
Hamas is worried that the Egyptian initiative will
undermine its authority in the Gaza Strip and allow the Palestinian Authority to
reassume full control over the area.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed
Aboul Gheit said on Saturday that Cairo would not succumb to Hamas pressure to
amend the reconciliation plan.
He denied Hamas claims that Egypt had
agreed to introduce the proposed changes.
“Egypt has no inclination, nor
is it ready to allow for any amendments to this document – either in the form of
direct changes made to it, or even as an appendix,” Gheit told reporters after a
meeting between Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and US special Middle East
envoy George Mitchell.
“The present document must be signed by Hamas as
it was signed by Fatah.”
The Egyptian plan calls for allowing PA security
forces to return to the Gaza Strip, and holding presidential and parliamentary
Sources close to Hamas claimed earlier that the PA and Egypt
had agreed to make the required changes to the document.
Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh later said that no progress has been made toward
ending the crisis with Fatah. He also denied that a Hamas delegation was
planning to visit Cairo soon for talks with Egyptian government officials on the
Meanwhile, Hamas and Fatah continued to arrest each other’s
supporters over the weekend, further exacerbating tensions between the two
Ahmed Assaf, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, said that Hamas
authorities were continuing to summon hundreds of Fatah supporters every
questioning. He said that many of them were being held in Hamas prisons
placed under house arrest.
Assaf said that Hamas’s actions prove that the
movement is not really interested in achieving reconciliation with
in maintaining its grip on the Gaza Strip.
He added that Fatah accepted
the Egyptian initiative despite having many reservations about it.
on the other hand, claimed that the PA security forces had in the past
arrested more than 50 of its supporters in the southern West Bank.
of the Hamas men who had been released claimed that PA policemen had
to wear Israel Police caps and dark glasses and taken pictures of them.