Head of Hamas delegation Saleh Arouri hugs Fatah leader Azzam Ahmad as they sign a reconciliation deal in Cairo, Egypt, October 12, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMR ABDALLAH DALSH)
Hamas spokesman Salah Bardawil expressed disappointment in the results of reconciliation talks in Cairo this week, calling them “lackluster” in a video posted on social media.
Bardawil’s comments came after Hamas, Fatah and 11 other Palestinian factions issued a statement at the end of two days of reconciliation talks that took place under the auspices of the Egyptian Intelligence Services.
“We say to our people in Gaza that we did everything we could in our power and undertook intensive efforts to come back to you with practical results that achieve what you are seeking in terms of lifting the sanctions, opening the crossings and making progress on reconciliation issues, but we were not able to achieve that which you aspire to,” Bardawil said Wednesday evening.
The statement by the Palestinian factions called for general elections by the end of 2018, the restoration of the Palestinian Legislative Council and other measures, but made no mention of new, specific agreements to advance reconciliation efforts.
Directing his comments at Gazans, Bardawil added: “It is clear that there was some sort of fleeing from and denial of what had been agreed to. We arrived at this lackluster result that does not fulfill your ambitions. We apologize to you.”
Gazans hope that advancements in reconciliation will lead to an improvement in the standard of living in the Strip, which suffers from a high unemployment rate and severely inadequate infrastructure.
Bardawil also said the issue of opening the Rafah Crossing was not allowed to be discussed at the talks.
“Unfortunately, it was not permitted for us to discuss this issue. The Palestinian people are going to suffer from what they have been suffering for a longer period of time. That is our fate,” he said.
Egypt opened Rafah earlier this week for three days and is slated to reopen it for three days next week, but has not said when or if it plans to open the sole crossing between Gaza and Egypt on a permanent basis.
According to Bardawil, Egypt has security concerns about opening Rafah. Over the past several years, terrorists in northern Sinai have attacked Egyptian soldiers near the Rafah crossing.
Bardawil also said he was informed by PA Intelligence Chief Majid Faraj and others that the US had been pressuring the PA to back away from reconciliation.
“We were informed by the PA and the brother, Majid Faraj, that there is American pressure and that, amid the pressure, we cannot move forward,” he said.
Fatah denied Bardawil’s comments, including his statement about Faraj.
“Bardawil’s comments are baseless and nothing more than propaganda… General Majid Faraj did not make any statements like the one Bardawil claimed he made,” the official Fatah Facebook page said in a post.
In a later statement, Bardawil apologized for his comments, which he said were emotional and undiplomatic, and said he did not know he was being filmed or interviewed when he made them.