Fatah, Hamas trade accusations over failure to bridge rift

"The gap between the two sides remains very wide," says a Fatah official in Ramallah.

abbas haniyeh 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
abbas haniyeh 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Egypt has once again failed in its efforts to end the rift between Hamas and Fatah, sources close to the two parties said on Wednesday. An Egyptian security delegation that met with Hamas and Fatah representatives in Ramallah this week left without succeeding in persuading the two sides to attend another round of reconciliation talks in Cairo late this month, the sources told The Jerusalem Post. The Egyptians were hoping to host another session of Palestinian reconciliation talks in Cairo on August 25, but the two parties advised the Egyptian officials who visited Ramallah to postpone the meeting. "The gap between the two sides remains very wide," said a Fatah official in Ramallah. He added that the Egyptian team, headed by Gen. Mohammed Ibrahim, a top official with the General Intelligence Service, expressed disappointment over the fact that neither Hamas nor Fatah were willing to soften their positions. Fatah representatives said they objected to the date set by the Egyptians because it conflicted with plans to convene the PLO's parliament-in-exile, the Palestine National Council at the end of the month. Fatah legislator Azzam al-Ahmed, member of the Fatah delegation that met with the Egyptians in Ramallah, said that the talks ended without agreement on a specific date for holding the reconciliation talks in Cairo. He said that the Egyptian delegation was scheduled to hold talks in Damascus with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on the same issue. Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha said that his movement was prepared to attend the Cairo talks later this month only if there was an agreement with Fatah over the political platform of a future unity government, the status of the Palestinian security forces, presidential and parliamentary elections and detainees held by both sides. Taha said that it was inconceivable that Hamas was being asked to sit and talk with Fatah while more than 800 Hamas-affiliated men were being held without trial in Palestinian prisons in the West Bank. On Tuesday, Fatah's security forces in the West Bank arrested Baha Farah, a journalist working for Aziz Dweik, speaker of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council. No reason was given for the detention. Hamas legislator Salah Bardaweel said that Fatah promised the Egyptians that it would release many detainees, but did not fulfill its pledge. He said that the Egyptian mediation efforts failed because of Fatah's refusal to release Hamas supporters. .