Hamas, Fatah feud over political platform of gov't

Abbas: Unity gov't will honor all agreements with Israel; Hamas says it will have nothing to do with PA president's program.

February 19, 2012 19:45
2 minute read.
Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh

Haniyeh and Abbas 521. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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A dispute has erupted between Hamas and Fatah over the political platform of a Palestinian unity government, Palestinian sources reported Sunday.

The dispute came as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal made preparations to hold another meeting in Cairo later this week to discuss the formation of a unity government and the implementation of the recent Qataribrokered reconciliation agreement between the two sides.

On Saturday during a meeting in Ramallah, Abbas told the Italian consul-general in Jerusalem that a Palestinian unity government, which would be established under the terms of the Qatari-brokered deal, would abide by the PLO’s political program.

Abbas said that the unity government would also honor all agreements that were signed between the PLO and Israel, including the Oslo Accords.

Under the terms of the reconciliation deal, the unity government would be headed by Abbas and its main mission would be to prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections and rebuild the Gaza Strip.

Abbas’s statements about the political agenda of the unity government drew sharp criticism from Hamas, whose leaders rushed Sunday to deny the PA president’s remarks.

Hamas does not want to be seen as having recognized the Oslo Accords or Israel’s right to exist by agreeing to the formation of a unity government with Abbas’s Fatah faction.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri emphasized that the proposed unity government “would have nothing to with Abbas’s political program, which we categorically reject.”

He stressed that Hamas remained opposed to negotiations with Israel or to making concessions on Palestinian rights, first and foremost the “right of return” for millions of Palestinian refugees to their former villages inside Israel.

Abu Zuhri said that contrary to Abbas’s statements, the unity government would be a temporary government with no political platform.

Ismail Radwan, another Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip, said that only an elected government would decide on political matters in the future, including the peace process with Israel.

“The [unity] transitional government’s task would be restricted to rebuilding the Gaza Strip and preparing for elections,” Radwan said. “After we hold elections, the new elected government will decide on its future steps in the political arena.”

In response, top Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed reiterated that the unity government would abide by the PLO’s political program despite Hamas’s opposition. However, he added that the new government would not deal with political issues.

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