Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meets with representatives of Palestinian groups and movements, who are in Moscow for an intra-Palestinian talks, on February 12, 2019.
(photo credit: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP)
Fatah and Hamas officials who met in Moscow this week again failed to solve their ongoing dispute, drawing sharp criticism – and ridicule – from Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Fatah and Hamas officials were among representatives of 12 Palestinian factions who were invited by the Russian Foreign Ministry to Moscow to discuss the latest developments in the Palestinian arena, including ways of ending the power struggle between the two rival parties and “challenges” facing the Palestinian issue.
Sources close to Fatah and Hamas said on Thursday that the two sides failed to reach agreement on ending their rivalry, which reached its peak when Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.
At the end of the three-day discussions, the Palestinian factions were unable to reach agreement on a joint statement due to the sharp differences between Fatah and Hamas.
Hussam Badran, a senior Hamas official who participated in the discussions, said political differences between the various Palestinian factions were the main reason behind the failure to reach agreement on a joint communique. Badran blamed the failure on Fatah, whose leaders, he said, have not taken a political decision to implement previous reconciliation agreements signed between the two parties. Hamas, he added, has made it clear that it is ready to hold new parliamentary elections “so that the Palestinians could elect their leaders.”
The Hamas official said the Palestinian factions did agree on rejecting US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-unveiled plan for peace in the Middle East
, which is also known as the “deal of the century,” and “all conspiracies to eliminate the Palestinian cause.”
Another senior Hamas official, Musa Abu Marzouk, also said the Palestinian factions agreed on the need to “confront the deal of the century.”
Azzam al-Ahmed, who headed the Fatah delegation to the Moscow discussions, said he “apologized” to the Russian hosts for the failure of the Palestinian factions to reach agreement on achieving Palestinian “national unity.” He said that although Fatah and Hamas agreed on the need to implement their previous reconciliation agreements, “what is needed today, more than ever, is to confront the American schemes” in the region.
Ahmed said that despite all the differences between Fatah and Iran, “we won’t accept to be recruited against Iran. The Israeli occupation is the source of all crises in the region.” His remark referred to the US-sponsored conference in Warsaw on peace and security in the Middle East, which began Wednesday. The Palestinian Authority turned down an invitation to participate in the conference, dubbing it a US “conspiracy” aimed at promoting normalization between the Arab states and Israel and creating a coalition against Iran.
The Islamic Jihad organization, whose representatives also attended the intra-Palestinian talks in Moscow, said it refused a proposed joint statement because it talked about the establishment of a Palestinian state “only” within the pre-1967 lines and because it referred to the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians. Like Hamas, Islamic Jihad does not recognize Israel’s right to exist.
Palestinian political analyst Fayez Abu Shamaleh said the leaders of Fatah and Hamas should apologize to the Palestinians, and not the Russians, for the failure to end their dispute. “We must be partners in this homeland with equal duties and responsibilities,” he said. “This is the shortest way to achieve reconciliation. Otherwise, the Palestinians refuse to accept a situation of masters and slaves.”
Another analyst, Ezz Abu Shanab, said the failure of the Russians and the Egyptians to end the Hamas-Fatah dispute poses a serious threat to the Gaza Strip “because of regional agendas and decisions.” Hamas’s refusal to hold elections and allow the PA government to assume its responsibilities in the Gaza Strip, he said, shows that it is not serious about ending the dispute.
Meanwhile, some Palestinians took to social media to mock both Hamas and Fatah for their failure to reach agreement on ending their rivalry, according to Al Jazeera’s Awad Rajoub.
He quoted one Palestinian as asking: “Has the vodka taken its toll on those who participated in the Moscow talks?” Another Palestinian sarcastically commented: “After returning from Moscow, the Palestinian factions have decided to mediate between the people of Gaza and the people of the West Bank to achieve national unity.”
A third Palestinian suggested that the Palestinian leaders hold their next meeting in the Saudi consulate in Moscow so that they would meet the same fate as dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was assassinated inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.
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