Algeria has invited representatives of several Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas, to another round of “national dialogue” in the capital Algiers next week.
Earlier this year, the Algerians hosted a similar meeting of Palestinian factions to try to bring to an end the rivalry between Fatah and Hamas, but it ended without agreement.
Palestinian sources dismissed the possibility that the upcoming intra-Palestinian discussions in Algiers would achieve a breakthrough.
In addition to Fatah and Hamas, 12 other factions, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), have agreed to send representatives.
Previous attempts by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and other Arab countries to end the Fatah-Hamas feud were also unsuccessful.
The upcoming meeting comes ahead of an Arab summit scheduled for next month in Algeria. Palestinian and Arab political analysts said that the renewed effort to achieve Palestinian “reconciliation” is part of Algerian President Abdemadjid Tebboune’s attempt to bolster his country’s standing at the summit.
On Thursday, Hamas welcomed the Algerian initiative and said it was ready to work “with full force and the highest degree of national responsibility to make the Algerian efforts succeed in achieving national unity.”
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh will head the group’s delegation to the discussions together with Khalil al-Hayya, Maher Salah and Hussam Badran, the Gaza-based group said in a statement.
The Fatah delegation consists of Azzam al-Ahmed, Mohammed al-Madani, Ahmed Hillis and Dalal Salameh.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh also welcomed the initiative and praised Algeria’s keenness to achieve Palestinian unity.
The PA government, he said, is prepared to take any step to support the efforts to end the Fatah-Hamas dispute.
The feud reached its peak in 2007, when Hamas staged a violent coup against the PA and seized control of the Gaza Strip.
But a political analyst in the coastal enclave said there was no reason to be optimistic about the latest Algerian initiative. “There are no signs that Hamas is willing to cede control of the Gaza Strip,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “On the other hand, no one believes that President Mahmoud Abbas is interested in making peace with Hamas. He’s also afraid of losing the support of Israel, the US and the Europeans if he strikes a deal with Hamas.”
Veteran Palestinian columnist Talal Okal also expressed pessimism regarding the prospects of the Algerian initiative.
“There is a deep crisis of confidence and skepticism on both sides,” he said, referring to the Fatah-Hamas conflict. “The current division [between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip] goes beyond a dispute. Rather, it has taken a geographical, cultural, social and political character between two authorities – one in Ramallah and the second in Gaza. This means that the Algerian mission is not easy at all.”
Tensions between Abbas and Hamas intensified after the PA president’s decision last year to call off elections for the PA presidency and parliament.
Hamas officials have in recent weeks stepped up their criticism of the Ramallah-based PA leadership for refusing to halt security coordination between Palestinian security forces and the IDF.
Hamas has also condemned the PA for continuing its security crackdown on the group’s members in the West Bank.
On Thursday, Hamas again accused the PA of arresting a number of its men over the past 24 hours.
According to Hamas, the arrests are politically motivated “and only serve the agenda of the occupation in fragmenting the unity of our people.”