PA President Abbas with Hamas PM Haniyeh 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)
Fatah officials expressed outrage on Wednesday over reports that Hamas and
Israel are conducting indirect talks in Cairo.
According to the reports,
Israeli and Hamas officials who arrived in Cairo recently have been holding
indirect talks about consolidating the current cease-fire in the Gaza Strip,
which has been in effect since Operation Pillar of Defense ended in
Jamal Muheissen, member of the Fatah Central Committee, said
the talks Hamas has been conducting with Israel are
Muheissen said that only the PLO was authorized to
conduct such negotiations in its capacity as the “sole legitimate representative
of the Palestinian people.”
He pointed out that the negotiations that
Hamas conducted with Israel over the release of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit have
led to the rearrest by the IDF of several Palestinian prisoners who were
released in the prisoner swap.
The Fatah official also criticized
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi for acting as a mediator between Israel and
Hamas. Muheissen accused Morsi of seeking to undermine the PLO’s status as the
sole representative of the Palestinians. Muheissen claimed that Morsi was trying
to “tame” Hamas and has not briefed Fatah on the outcome of the indirect talks
with Israel in Cairo, he added.
Abdullah Abdullah, another senior Fatah
official, also denounced Hamas for holding indirect negotiations with Israel. He
too said that the PLO was the only party authorized to conduct negotiations on
behalf of the Palestinians.
Abdullah claimed that the indirect talks
between Hamas and Israel were the reason behind the failure of the latest effort
to achieve reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. He also expressed fear that
Hamas was aiming through the indirect talks at establishing a separate
Palestinian entity in the Gaza Strip.
Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf said
that the indirect talks between Israel and Hamas were “very dangerous” and would
have “catastrophic consequences” on the Palestinians.
“What is Hamas
negotiating with Israel about?” he asked. “And who authorized Hamas to negotiate
on behalf of the Palestinian people?” Assaf also said he believes that the
reconciliation talks with Hamas had failed because of the “secret talks in
Hamas, for its part, defended the indirect talks with Israel,
saying the discussions were focusing only on “humanitarian issues.”
leader Mahmoud Zahar said that the Cairo talks dealt with the reopening of the
crossing borders in the Gaza Strip, the cease-fire and the hunger-strike of
Palestinians in Israeli prisons.
“We are not negotiating about core
issues like lands and Jerusalem,” Zahar said.
“We are only negotiating
about humanitarian issues that would end the suffering of our prisoners.”