Hamas and Fatah declare start of negotiations

The rival parties are scheduled to meet next week to discuss ending their current dispute; news comes after arrests in West Bank, Gaza Strip.

Fatah (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Hamas announced on Sunday it had agreed to meet Fatah next week to discuss ways of ending their dispute.
The announcement came as tensions mounted between the rival parties following the arrest of Hamas and Fatah supporters in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, respectively.
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The war of words between the two sides also continued to escalate despite talk about a possible reconciliation.
Hamas and Fatah representatives were scheduled to meet in Damascus last week in another bid to end the crisis.
However, the talks were canceled following a heated altercation between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Syrian President Bashar Assad during the recent Arab summit in Libya.
Abbas’s aides accuse Assad of “humiliating” the PA president; Assad scolded Abbas for “succumbing to Israeli and American pressure” to return to the negotiating table with Israel, as well as “abandoning” the option of an armed struggle.
The two sides have yet to agree on a venue for next week’s meeting.
Salah Bardaweel, a Hamas legislator and spokesman in the Gaza Strip, did not rule out that the meeting would still be held in the Syrian capital.
Bardaweel scoffs at assertions that the political platforms of Hamas and Fatah are identical.
“Fatah leaders should not waste their time searching for similarities in the political platforms of Hamas and Fatah,” he said. “The only thing we could have in common is not recognizing Israel’s existence.”
The Hamas official said that even if his movement accepted a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, it won’t relinquish its claim to historic Palestine “from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river.”
Bardaweel was commenting on remarks made by Osama Qawasmeh, a Fatah spokesman in the West Bank, who claimed over the weekend that Hamas had recognized Israel’s right to exist.
Qawasmeh said that Hamas would recognize Israel’s existence if a Palestinian state included the entire West Bank, Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem.
Azzam Ahmed, head of the Fatah delegation to the talks with Hamas, said they would focus on an Egyptian proposal presented to the two parties last year to end the conflict.
Ahmed said that Fatah and Hamas have yet to agree on a number of points in the proposal, such as holding new elections in the West Bank and Gaza, reconstructing the Palestinian security forces, and the release of prisoners held by both sides.
The Fatah representative denied that an Israeli or American “veto” was preventing his faction from signing a deal with Hamas. “Fatah’s will is stronger than any American veto,” he said.
“That’s why we already accepted the Egyptian reconciliation plan. Also, we won’t allow Israel to intervene in the internal affairs of the Palestinians.”
In a related development, Hamas have accused the Fatah-controlled PA security forces in the West Bank of arresting “Islamic scholar” Majed Hassan less than two weeks after he was released from an Israeli prison.
Hassan, a resident of Ramallah, served three years in an Israeli prison and was released on October 7. He has since been summoned three times for interrogation by different branches of the PA security forces in the West Bank. On Sunday, he was summoned for the third time and arrested in a PA prison in Ramallah.