Hamas accepts Egyptian proposal to end dispute with Fatah

Egypt has exerted heavy pressure on Hamas and Fatah to end the enmity between them.

Head of Hamas delegation Saleh Arouri hugs Fatah leader Azzam Ahmad as they sign a reconciliation deal in Cairo, Egypt, October 12, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS/AMR ABDALLAH DALSH)
Head of Hamas delegation Saleh Arouri hugs Fatah leader Azzam Ahmad as they sign a reconciliation deal in Cairo, Egypt, October 12, 2017.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told the head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Force, Abbas Kamel, on Thursday that his organization has accepted Cairo’s latest proposal for ending its dispute with the rival Fatah faction.
However, it remained unclear whether Fatah had also accepted the Egyptian initiative.
In their phone call, Haniyeh and Kamel discussed developments affecting the Palestinian cause, Hamas-Fatah reconciliation and various humanitarian projects for the residents of the Gaza Strip, according to a statement released by the Hamas leader’s office.
“Haniyeh affirmed to the Egyptian official Hamas’s agreement to the Egyptian proposal, which was presented to the Hamas delegation that visited Cairo last week,” the statement said. “This proposal was the fruit of a thorough dialogue, and Hamas’s endorsement of it came out of consideration for the exceptional circumstances in the Palestinian arena and the dangerous targeting of our cause, especially with regards to the issues of refugees and Jerusalem.”
Palestinian rivals Fatah, Hamas sign reconciliation accord, October 12 2017.
The last part of the statement apparently refers to US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-unveiled Middle East peace plan. The Palestinians have dismissed the unseen plan as a “conspiracy to liquidate the Palestinian cause and national rights.”
According to Palestinian sources, the latest Egyptian proposal to end the Hamas-Fatah rift calls for lifting the sanctions which the Palestinian Authority imposed on the Gaza Strip last year, rescinding the PA decision to stop payments to thousands of its employees and funds to ministries, and resuming tax-free payments for fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip’s power plant.
The proposal, the sources said, also calls for allowing PA ministers to assume their work in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave, and the launching of consultations to form a Palestinian “national unity government” within five weeks.
The proposal reportedly permits Hamas to collect taxes and tariffs in the Gaza Strip on behalf of the PA government. Hamas would then deduct part of the funds to pay salaries to its own employees, mainly its security personnel, according to the proposal.
Meanwhile, the PA government would absorb some 20,000 civil servants employed by Hamas after its violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007.
At a later stage, the proposal says, the border crossings connecting the Gaza Strip with Israel and Egypt would be fully reopened, while taking into consideration the security needs of the two countries.
However, it was not clear whether the proposal addresses the issue of Hamas’s security forces and its armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.
Fatah leaders, including PA President Mahmoud Abbas, have repeatedly demanded that Hamas hand over security control over the Gaza Strip – a demand that Hamas has completely rejected.
Fatah leaders have been holding intensive discussions in Ramallah to discuss the Egyptian proposal.
A senior Fatah official said on Thursday that representatives of his faction had “a few reservations” about the proposal. He said that the Fatah officials were particularly worried about the status of Hamas’s security forces and military wing.
Our major concern is that the [Egyptian] proposal fully endorses the Hamas position,” the official said. He and other Fatah officials said they believed that Hamas leaked the Egyptian proposal to the media in order to “throw the ball into Fatah’s court.”
Fatah spokesperson Atef Abu Seif said that his faction’s stance towards the Egyptian initiative was “positive.” “The Fatah leadership is currently studying the proposal, and we are optimistic about the chances of achieving national unity.” A senior Fatah delegation will visit Cairo in the coming days to present its response to the Egyptians, he added.