Fatah-Hamas agreement fizzles out

PA officials accuse Fatah representative of signing deal without consulting Abbas and his aides.

qurei 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
qurei 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Yemeni-brokered agreement signed between Fatah and Hamas Sunday did not receive the approval of the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah, PA officials said Monday. The officials accused Fatah representative Azzam al-Ahmed of signing the agreement without consulting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his aides. However, Ahmed insisted that he did consult with the PA leadership before signing the agreement. He accused unnamed PA and Fatah leaders of seeking to "sabotage" the agreement. The agreement, called the San'a Declaration, calls for launching dialogue between Hamas and Fatah to restore the status quo that existed in the Gaza Strip before Hamas took full control over the area in June 2007. It also calls for holding early elections and forming a Hamas-Fatah "unity government." The agreement drew sharp criticism from many PA and Fatah leaders who remain strongly opposed to any form of negotiations with Hamas until the Islamic movement cedes control over the Gaza Strip. "President Abbas came under heavy pressure from most of his aides to reject the agreement," one official said. "The Americans and Israelis also rushed to issue threats against us." Chief PA negotiator Ahmed Qurei said the Fatah representative had acted on his own when he signed the agreement with Hamas. He said Ahmed phoned Abbas's office for instructions, but the PA president was unable to talk to him because he was meeting with US Vice President Dick Cheney. "He tried to call the president's office several times to seek permission for signing the agreement, but everyone was busy with Cheney's visit," he said. "In the end he decided to sign the agreement on his own responsibility." Nimer Hammad, political adviser to Abbas, lashed out at Ahmed for signing the agreement without receiving a green light from Abbas. He said the PA leadership was surprised to hear about the agreement that was signed under the auspices of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top PLO official closely associated with Abbas, said the Hamas-Fatah agreement was 'stillborn." "We don't want dialogue for the sake of dialogue," he said. "This will only result in more confusion and consolidate the Hamas coup in the Gaza Strip. We will end up evolving in a vicious cycle." Abed Rabbo said the only way to solve the current crisis was by forcing Hamas to sit and talk about the implementation of the Yemeni initiative to end the power struggle. "What happened in San'a does not constitute a good and serious beginning," he added. "Unfortunately, this won't solve the crisis." Abed Rabbo said the agreement was ambiguous and unclear and warned the Palestinians against being misled to think that a breakthrough had been achieved in Yemen. Nabil Amr, another adviser to Abbas, said he was convinced that the Fatah representative signed the accord as a goodwill gesture to the Yemeni president. He said the signing of the agreement had caused confusion among the Palestinians. "Hamas wants to talk for the sake of talking," he said. "They have no intention of ending their coup in the Gaza Strip." Hamas accused the US, Israel and some Fatah leaders in Ramallah of thwarting the agreement. "There are many parties that want to foil the agreement and deepen divisions among the Palestinians," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. Hamas legislator Salah Bardaweel accused the PA leadership of succumbing to American and Israeli dictates. "The Americans and Israelis don't want an end to the crisis," he charged. He claimed that not all of Abbas's top advisers were opposed to the agreement.