(photo credit: AP)
Hamas's candidate for the post of interior minister can't understand why Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas opposes his appointment.
"Most of the political and security figures in Fatah have announced their support for me," Hamoudeh Jarwan, 55, a former PLO security officer with close links to Hamas, said Wednesday.
"I'm a religious person and everyone knows that I've been so for the past 40 years," he said in response to allegations that he was a Hamas member. "I've never hidden the fact that I'm a religious Muslim, but I was never a member of Hamas. Abbas and [Fatah leader] Muhammad Dahlan know that I actually belong to Fatah."
Asked why he thought Abbas and Fatah firmly oppose his appointment as minister in a planned Hamas-led unity coalition, Jarwan said: "They are afraid, afraid, afraid. I was the former PLO military prosecutor and I held a very senior position when the PLO was in Lebanon. Because I was very powerful, I used to prevent PLO leaders from interfering with my work or in matters that didn't concern then. They are now afraid that if I come to the job I will expose many things, especially with regard to financial corruption."
Jarwan said he would be able to restore law and order to the PA territories once he was interior minister.
"It's very easy to end the state of lawlessness and anarchy because it's all organized by Palestinians with close links to the US and Israel," he said, in what is interpreted by some Palestinians as a reference to Dahlan.
Abbas reportedly told PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas during their tense talks over the past three days that Fatah would never agree to Jarwan's appointment. Abbas did not say why he opposed the move, but top Fatah officials told The Jerusalem Post that Jarwan was not qualified for the position and was too close to Hamas.
"He's not suitable for the job," said a Fatah legislator in Ramallah. "He has a big mouth and bad relations with many Fatah officials."
Hamas legislator Salah Bardaweel said Abbas presented Haniyeh with a list of 12 candidates for the Interior Ministry portfolio on Tuesday night.
"Hamas has rejected Abbas's candidates," he said. "Hamas will come up with a new candidate to solve the crisis. If we fail to reach agreement on the identity of the interior minister, we will propose that Haniyeh be temporarily responsible for the ministry."
Under the terms of the "national unity" agreement that was reached in Mecca on February 8 between Fatah and Hamas, the Interior Ministry will go to an independent figure to be chosen by Hamas.
Abbas's list includes two judges, Hamdan al-Abadleh and Mazen Saisalem, as well as prominent columnist Talal Okal, a former senior official with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan said he expected Abbas and Haniyeh to reach an agreement on the identity of the new interior minister before the end of the week.
"Hamas has presented Abbas with a new list of candidates and we are waiting for his response," he said. "I believe this issue could be resolved in the coming day or two."â€¢