Hamas has not abandoned efforts to achieve Palestinian national reconciliation, Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh said Tuesday.“We are still holding onto [our positions on] reconciliation, ending the division and restoring national unity. We have not departed from these positions,” the Hamas leader said during an hour-long speech in Gaza City. “And I don’t believe Hamas will depart from these positions.”
In mid-October, Hamas and its rival Fatah signed an agreement in Cairo to advance reconciliation efforts and restore the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority’s governing authority over the Gaza Strip. However, the parties have failed to implement the deal, arguing over the interpretation of its details and missing deadlines it set.Last month, the head of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, said reconciliation efforts “are in danger” and “collapsing.”The most contested issue between Hamas and Fatah is the future of the weapons of terrorist groups in Gaza. Hamas has said it will not accept any group conceding its weapons. Meanwhile, PA President and Fatah Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has said he would only agree to a scenario in which the PA security forces control all of Gaza’s weapons.Hamas has controlled Gaza since ousting the Fatah-dominated PA in 2007 from the territory.Haniyeh also said Hamas and Fatah officials are still in contact with each other and recently held a meeting.“The communication and messages [between us] did not stop,” he said. “During the last two days, there was a high-level meeting between one of our leaders and one of the Fatah Central Committee [members].”Haniyeh did not name the officials.Later in his speech, the Hamas chief added that an official in the Egyptian intelligence services informed him earlier Tuesday that Egypt wants to host a meeting between Hamas and Fatah officials.The last time the parties met in Egypt was in early December.
Interview with UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenovn Gaza-West Bank reconciliation. (Tovah Lazaroff)