Deep differences have erupted among the Hamas leadership over the reconciliation agreement with Fatah, which resulted in the formation of a Palestinian unity government, the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper revealed on Wednesday.

A source close to Hamas quoted a senior official of the Islamist movement as denouncing the deal with Fatah as "surrender on the part of Hamas," the paper said.

The Hamas leader, who was not identified, described the new government as a "Fatah government headed by the same man but with some amendments."

The leader complained that Hamas has "handed the Gaza Strip over to Fatah."

The source explained that the dispute was not between Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and abroad, but between two camps in the movement's leadership.

According to the sources, one camp sees the deal with Fatah as the best that could have been achieved. The second camp, the source said, views the deal as "capitulation on the part of Hamas and surrender to all of Fatah's demands."

Meanwhile, Hamas' armed wing, Ezzaddin al-Kassam, announced on Tuesday that it has no intention to be incorporated into the Palestinian Authority security forces in wake of the formation of the unity government.

Abu Obaida, a spokesman for the terror group, said that Ezzadin al-Kassam was never a security force or an executive force in the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip. "We are a military institution with national goals," the spokesman said, adding that the issue of being incorporated into the PA security forces was non-negotiable.

Fatah and Hamas continue arresting each other's supporters

The reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas has not stopped the security forces of the two parties from arresting each other’s supporters in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Hamas said on Wednesday that Palestinian Authority security forces were continuing to crack down on the Islamist movement supporters in the West Bank.

Over the past 48 hours, the PA security forces arrested six Hamas supporters and summoned six others for interrogation, according to the movement.

In the Jenin area, PA security forces arrested Osama al-Sawafta, a Hamas member who had served seven years in Israeli prison. Sawafta decided to go on hunger strike in protest against his arrest, Hamas said.

In the Ramallah area, the PA’s Preventive Security Force arrested Baha Ghalyoun, a resident of Silwad village, after summoning him for interrogation.

The PA’s General Intelligence Service arrested three Hamas-affiliated university students shortly after they participated in a solidarity rally with Palestinian prisoners who are on hunger strike in Israel.

The three were identified as brothers Zakariya and Muhammad Hashayka and Ahmed Rayyan.

In Hebron, PA security officers arrested Hamas supporter Ramadan al-Hashlamon whose brother Luay is among the striking prisoners in Israeli jails.

Several other Hamas supporters in the city and nearby villages were ordered to report for interrogation at PA security installations in the coming days.

In Bethlehem, PA security forces summoned for interrogation Hamas supporters Khaled Salim and Orabi al-Jawarish.

On Tuesday, Hamas security forces arrested Arafat Abu Shabab, a senior Fatah official, as he entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

The arrest of Abu Shabab drew sharp criticism from Fatah leaders, who urged Hamas to release the man instantly.

A Hamas spokesman said that Abu Shabab was arrested in accordance with a court order.

The spokesman said that the Fatah man was a suspect in homicide cases.

Abu Shabab fled the Gaza Strip in 2007, when Hamas seized control over the area.

Fatah spokesman Fayez Abu Aitah called on Hamas to release the top operative under the pretext that the man had a played a “heroic” role in the first and second intifadas.

Meanwhile, deep differences have erupted among the Hamas leadership over the reconciliation agreement with Fatah that resulted in the formation of a Palestinian unity government, the London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper revealed on Wednesday.

A source close to Hamas quoted a senior official of the Islamist movement as denouncing the deal with Fatah as “surrender on the part of Hamas,” the paper said.

The Hamas leader, who was not identified, described the new government as a “Fatah government headed by the same man but with some amendments,” and complained that Hamas has “handed the Gaza Strip over to Fatah.”

The source explained that the dispute was not between Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and abroad, but between two camps in the movement’s leadership.

According to the sources, one camp sees the deal with Fatah as the best that could have been achieved. The second camp, the source said, views the deal as “capitulation on the part of Hamas and surrender to all of Fatah’s demands.”

Meanwhile, Hamas’s armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, announced on Tuesday that it has no intention to be incorporated into the Palestinian Authority security forces in wake of the formation of the unity government.

Abu Obaida, a spokesman for the terrorist group, said that Izzadin Kassam was never a security force or an executive force in the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.

“We are a military institution with national goals,” the spokesman said, adding that the issue of being incorporated into the PA security forces was nonnegotiable.

Despite differences, Abbas pushes ahead towards election preparations

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday instructed the Palestinian Central Elections Commission to start immediate preparations for holding presidential and parliamentary elections in six months’ time.

In a letter to the head of the commission, Hanna Nasser, Abbas wrote that the elections would take place in accordance with the reconciliation agreement that was signed in April between Fatah and Hamas.

The Palestinian president instructed the commission to coordinate its steps with the Fatah-Hamas government that was sworn in on Monday to ensure that the elections would be free and fair.

Abbas’s decision came despite Israel’s announcement that it would not allow Hamas or any other terrorist organization to participate in the Palestinian elections.

PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah urged the international community to exert pressure on Israel to allow the elections to take place also in east Jerusalem.

He told foreign diplomats in Ramallah on Tuesday that without the participation of east Jerusalem residents, the Palestinians would not be able to hold the elections, and briefed them on the latest developments surround the formation of the unity government and Israel’s subsequent punitive measures.

Hamdallah appealed to the international community to “assume its legal and moral responsibilities by pressuring Israel to stop its transgressions against Palestinian prisoners.”

He demanded the immediate release of administrative detainees who are on hunger strike in Israeli prisons.

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