(photo credit: REUTERS)
Fatah and Hamas agreed in talks in Cairo last week to make joint decisions on matters related to escalating violent conflict with Israel as well as making peace, the London-based Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat reported on Sunday, citing well-informed Palestinian sources.
The two rival parties held reconciliation talks in Cairo last week, under the auspices of the Egyptian Intelligence Directorate, which concluded on Thursday in the signing of an agreement to restore the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority’s governing authority in the Gaza Strip.
A leaked copy of the agreement’s text does not include a reference to joint decision-making on matters related to escalating violent conflict or making peace. Nonetheless, the sources who spoke to the Arabic daily said there is “a clear agreement that no side will unilaterally make major decisions like [signing] a peace agreement to end the conflict or starting a [violent] confrontation with Israel.”
Regarding escalating conflict with Israel, the sources added that there is “an implicit understanding” that Hamas and Fatah will make collective decisions relating not only to the Gaza Strip but also to the West Bank, which they said means Hamas will stop trying to ignite conflict in the latter territory.
Since its founding in the late 1980s, Hamas has planned deadly attacks in the West Bank against Israelis as well as encouraged and blessed them.
Speaking with Egyptian television in early October, Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh said that his party is ready to agree jointly with Fatah and other Palestinian factions about “when and how to resist” Israel.
“We in Hamas are ready to dialogue with our brothers in Fatah and the rest of the factions to agree on how to make decisions, including that of the decision of resistance,” Haniyeh said. “We have no problem with the decision of resistance being a joint decision.”
In the same interview, however, Haniyeh also said that he opposes the disarmament of Hamas’s armed wing, which is composed of some 25,000 members who possess thousands of guns and rockets.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas has long demanded that the PA control all weapons in the West Bank and Gaza.
A senior Palestinian official in Ramallah on Sunday said he was not aware of a physical or verbal agreement between Hamas and Fatah on making joint decisions on violence and peace. However, the official said he personally believes both parties will abide by such a principle in the near future.