Sphinx in front of pyramids, Giza, Cairo, Egypt.
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Egypt has again invited Hamas and Fatah representatives to Cairo for further discussions on ways of ending the dispute between the two rival Palestinian groups.
Palestinian and Egyptian sources said representatives of the two Palestinian groups were scheduled to arrive in Cairo for talks with heads of Egypt’s General Intelligence Force on the latest Egyptian proposal to end the dispute.
The proposal, according to Hamas officials, calls for lifting the sanctions imposed by the Palestinian Authority on the Gaza Strip in return for allowing the Ramallah-based government to assume its responsibilities in the coastal enclave.
Last week, Hamas officials Musa Abu Marzouk and Ismail Haniyeh announced that their movement has accepted the Egyptian proposal.
However, Fatah has still not announced its position toward the Egyptian initiative, which, according to some reports, also allows Hamas to collect taxes and tariffs in the Gaza Strip on behalf of the PA government. Hamas would then deduct a certain amount from the funds to pay salaries to members of its security forces and military wing, Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, the reports said.
The Egyptian proposal also requires the PA government to incorporate some 20,000 civil servants employed by Hamas after its violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, the reports added.
According to the reports, an agreement between Hamas and Fatah would lead to the reopening of the border crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel and Egypt.
Sources close to Fatah said on Monday that the faction’s leaders have some “reservations” about the Egyptian proposal. The sources said that senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed, who is expected to arrive in the Egyptian capital in the coming days, will relay these “reservations” to the Egyptian authorities.
One source said that some Fatah officials who saw the proposal complained that Egypt has fully “endorsed” Hamas’s positions.
Some Fatah officials who met in Ramallah in the past few days to discuss the Egyptian proposal said they had “reservations” about two issues. First, the demand to put some 20,000 Hamas employees on the PA government payroll, and, second, the issue of security control over the Gaza Strip.
Commenting on the first issue, a senior Fatah official said he does not believe that the PA government would agree to absorb another 20,000 civil servants due to financial constraints. “These employees were hired by Hamas after it staged a coup in the Gaza Strip, and there’s no reason why we should pay the price,” the Fatah official told The Jerusalem Post.
With regards to the security issue, the official said that Fatah’s position remains clear and firm – namely that Hamas should hand over to the PA government all security responsibilities in the Gaza Strip. “We can’t have two different security apparatuses in the Gaza Strip,” he explained. “There should be one government, one law and one police force in the Gaza Strip. Either Hamas hands over to us everything in the Gaza Strip or there is no deal.”
Ahmed, the Fatah official in charge of the negotiations with Hamas and the Egyptians, said on Sunday that details of the Egyptian proposal, which were “leaked” by Hamas officials last week, were “baseless and contradictory.” He said the Egyptians did not present the two sides with a “new proposal.” Rather, the top Fatah official added, the Egyptians presented the two sides with a series of proposals for the implantation of previous reconciliation agreements signed between Fatah and Hamas.
Mohammed Shtayyeh, member of the Fatah Central Committee, said on Monday that the latest Egyptian ideas for ending the dispute with Hamas included “very positive elements.” Fatah, he said, “wants a comprehensive agreement [with Hamas]. We want a real and serious reconciliation.”
Shtayyeh said the PA government was ready to assume its full responsibilities in the Gaza Strip. Hamas, he said, sees the reconciliation as “job sharing under the motto of partnership.” Fatah is opposed to this view, he said. “Fatah is prepared for political partnership.”
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