Palestinians on Monday reacted with skepticism to news about a “reconciliation”
agreement between Fatah and Hamas – the latest in a series of unsuccessful deals
that were reached between the two rival parties in the past few
The new agreement, which was announced in Cairo on Sunday, calls
for the implementation of the Doha Accord, which was signed between Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal earlier this
The Doha Accord envisages the formation of a Palestinian “national
unity government” and holding new presidential and parliamentary elections in
the Palestinian territories.
Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah official who
signed Sunday’s agreement on behalf of his faction, said the two sides agreed to
start implementing the Doha Accord instantly.
He said that the
Palestinian Central Election Committee will resume its work in the Gaza Strip as
of May 27 to prepare for new elections.
Fatah and Hamas also agreed to
launch immediate talks on the formation of a new unity government as of May 27,
Ahmed said. The talks will last only 10 days, after which the new government
will be announced, he added.
Fatah had held Hamas responsible for failure
to implement the Doha Accord due to internal differences inside the Islamist
Hamas was foiling the agreement by refusing to allow the
election committee to start registering voters in the Gaza Strip in preparation
for new elections, according to Fatah.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said
Monday that his movement has decided to allow the election committee to resume
its work in the Gaza Strip.
He also confirmed that the two sides have
agreed to launch talks on the formation of a new government whose main mission
would be to “rebuild the Gaza Strip.”
The new unity government, Barhoum
explained, would serve for only six months, after which Palestinians would be
called to vote for a new PA president and parliament.
agreement was reached under the sponsorship of the Egyptian General Intelligence
Force, Hamas and Fatah spokesmen said.
The Egyptian-brokered deal came as
a surprise to many Palestinians, especially in light of the fact that the PA has
just formed a new cabinet in the West Bank headed by Salam Fayyad.
new PA cabinet was sworn in by Abbas last Thursday – a move that was condemned
by Hamas as a fatal blow to efforts to achieve Palestinian
Moreover, the Cairo agreement came as a surprise because it
coincided with mounting tensions between Fatah and Hamas, particularly in wake
of the PA’s ongoing security crackdown on supporters of the Islamist movement in
the West Bank.
Palestinians across the political spectrum expressed
doubts as to whether Fatah and Hamas would be able to implement the most recent
Faisal Abu Shahla, member of the Fatah “Revolutionary
Council,” said he hoped the new deal would not remain ink on paper like previous
The Palestinians, he added, were sick and tired of hearing
about new agreements between Fatah and Hamas that are never implemented on the
“We hope this time the two sides are serious in implementing the
agreement,” Abu Shahla said. “The Egyptians have promised to follow up with both
sides to make sure that the agreement is implemented.”
Rabah Muhana, a
senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, warned
against “excessive optimism” regarding the implementation of Sunday’s
He also said that Palestinians were hoping that this agreement
would not meet the same fate as previous ones.
Saleh Zeidan, a
representative of another Palestinian group, the Democratic Front for the
Liberation of Palestine, called on Palestinians to put pressure on Fatah and
Hamas to end their dispute.
The rivalry between the two parties has
caused tremendous damage to the interests of the Palestinians, he
Reflecting the sense of skepticism among Palestinians toward the
reconciliation efforts, Sufyan Abu Zaida, a top Fatah official, said: “Most
Palestinians have no confidence [in the agreement] because they do not see real
changes in the behavior of the two sides.”