Hamas, Fatah deflect blame for failed Palestinian unity

PA official claims Hamas sabotaging reconciliation at behest of Iranians; Hamas leaders say Abbas has succumbed to US, Israeli pressure.

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June 23, 2011 19:23
3 minute read.
PA President Abbas with Hamas PM Haniyeh

PA President Abbas with Hamas PM Haniyeh 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem)

 
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Hamas on Thursday accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of backtracking on the Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation agreement between the two sides.

The PA, in response, said that Iran, which supports Hamas financially, has instructed the movement to pull out of the agreement with Fatah.

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“Hamas is nothing but a tool in the hands of Iran,” a PA official said. "There can be no agreement with a movement that serves the agenda of a regime like Iran, which is a threat to Arab national security."

Hamas leaders and representatives claimed that Abbas has succumbed to US, EU and Israeli pressure to abandon the reconciliation accord, which was announced in Cairo on May 4, following threats to suspend financial aid to the Palestinians if the agreement is implemented.

“The honeymoon between Fatah and Hamas seems to have ended very quickly,” remarked a Fatah official in Ramallah. “The gap between the two parties remains very wide on most issues.”

The Fatah official claimed that Abbas has decided to postpone the implementation of the agreement with Hamas until after September, when the PA plans to ask the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines.



Earlier this week, Abbas called off a planned meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Cairo this week, where the two men were supposed to announce the establishment of a unity government dominated by independent technocrats.

Abbas justified his decision by saying that he had made earlier plans to visit Turkey and did not have time to go to Cairo to see Mashaal.

Fatah and Hamas officials said the summit had been postponed indefinitely because the two sides could not agree on who would head the unity government. Abbas insists that current Prime Minister Salam Fayyad head the government, while Hamas has been demanding that the premier should come from the Gaza Strip.

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh criticized Abbas for insisting on the nomination of Fayyad. He said that the PA’s security crackdown on Hamas supporters in the West Bank was also hindering the implementation of the reconciliation pact.

Hanieyh confirmed that Hamas’s preferred candidate for the prime minister post was Jamal al-Khudari, a prominent businessman from the Gaza Strip.

Hamas’s Lebanon-based “foreign minister,” Osama Hamdan, said that he was convinced that Abbas has not been able to resist American and Israeli pressure to dump the agreement with Hamas.

Hamdan pointed out that Hamas was not alone in rejecting Fayyad as head of the proposed unity government. “More than half of the members of the Fatah Central Committee are also opposed to Fayyad,” he said. “It’s a disaster that there isn’t any Palestinian who could replace Fayyad.”

Hamas legislator Salah Bardaweel claimed that by insisting on Fayyad’s candidacy, Abbas “even embarrassed many in Fatah, who don’t share his position.”

Bardaweel, who participated in the negotiations with Fatah ahead of the reconciliation agreement, said that Fatah representatives did not raise Fayyad’s name until they received instructions from Abbas to do so.

Hamdan also attacked Abbas for his remarks in an interview with a Lebanese TV station about the arrest of Hamas supporters in the West Bank. In the interview, Abbas said that Hamas men were being arrested not because of their political affiliation, but for committing criminal offenses such as smuggling weapons and money laundering.

“It seems that the man [Abbas] has no struggling background and had never resisted the occupation in his life,” the Hamas official said. “He has fallen in love with the enemy during his efforts to make peace. Abbas’s statements raise questions about his qualification to lead the Palestinians.

Hamas is also angry with Abbas because he does not want to present the new unity government to the Palestinian Legislative Council for a vote of confidence.

“Hamas remains committed to the PA’s Basic Law, which requires the government to receive the backing of a majority in parliament,” said Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan.

The Hamas-dominated parliament has ceased to function since 2007, when Hamas took full control over the Gaza Strip and kicked the PA out.

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