A demonstrator in Gaza City holds a Palestinian flag during a rally calling on rivals Hamas and Fatah to end their political division.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has decided to intensify talks with Hamas about the formation of a unity government and putting an end to their rift, Palestinian sources said on Monday.
Abbas has decided to expand the Fatah team that is currently negotiating with Hamas to include more officials, such as Jibril Rajoub, Mohammad Shtayyeh and Zakaria al-Agha, sources said.
In recent weeks, a Fatah delegation headed by Azzam al-Ahmed and Sakher Bseiso held talks with Hamas representatives in Doha, Qatar, in a bid to reach an agreement on ending the dispute, which erupted following Hamas’s victory in the 2006 parliamentary election.
The dispute reached its peak in the summer of 2007, when Hamas seized control over the entire Gaza Strip.
The talks in Qatar have thus far failed to achieve progress on two thorny issues: the political program of the proposed unity government and the future of thousands of Hamas employees.
Fatah insists that the unity government be established on the basis of the PLO’s political program, which includes recognition the two-state solution and honoring all agreements signed between the Palestinians and Israel. Hamas says it can’t accept any program that recognizes Israel’s right to exist.
Hamas, for its part, continues to demand that its employees be incorporated into the unity government – a demand that has been turned down by Fatah.
Over he past week, there have been conflicting reports about the outcome of the Qatar talks. Some reports suggested that progress had been made toward the formation of a unity government, while others said the two sides had failed to achieve results.
In a move that could have a negative impact on efforts to end the dispute, Hamas on Monday rejected Abbas’s decision to form the first Palestinian “constitutional court.”
Hamas said the decision would deepen divisions among the Palestinians, foil attempts to achieve reconciliation with Fatah and “harm the intifada.”
“The formation of the new court is aimed at concentrating all powers n the hands of Abbas,” said Yehya Musa, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip.
Musa also accused Abbas of seeking to “liquidate” his political rivals in Fatah by establishing the new court.