Hamas, Fatah exchange blame for unity talks' failure

Abbas meets Haniyeh for first time since 2007.

Mashaal with Abbas 311 R (photo credit: Reuters)
Mashaal with Abbas 311 R
(photo credit: Reuters)
Hamas and Fatah traded allegations over the weekend regarding the failure of efforts to form a Palestinian unity government.
Last Thursday during a meeting in Cairo, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal decided to postpone talks over the formation of a unity government envisaged by the recent Qatari-brokered reconciliation deal between the rival parties.
Abbas also met Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh late on Thursday night, marking the first face-to-face conversation between the two leaders since 2007, when the Islamist group seized full control of the Gaza Strip.
Meeting at Al-Andalus Castle in the Egyptian capital, the rival Palestinian leaders discussed Fatah-Hamas reconciliation efforts, including differences of opinion that have stalled the implementation of the unity deal, the Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported on Friday.
Azzam al-Ahmed, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, said the decision to postpone unity talks had been taken at the request of the Hamas leadership.
“There is an internal dispute within Hamas over the formation of a unity government,” he said. “Hamas asked for the delay and President Mahmoud Abbas, who understands the difficulties facing Hamas, agreed to postpone the talks.”
The Fatah official pointed out that many Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip were strongly opposed to the Qatari-brokered deal because Mashaal did not consult with them before signing the accord.
Ahmed said he did not know anything about new Hamas conditions for the establishment of a unity government.
Reports in some Arab media outlets have claimed that Hamas was now demanding three or four key ministries, including the finance and interior portfolios. However, Hamas officials denied this and said they had not asked for ministerial jobs in a unity government headed by Abbas.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denied that his movement had asked for the delay in unity government talks. He insisted that it had been Abbas, and not Hamas, who suggested the postponement, explaining that the PA leader first wanted guarantees that Israel would allow Palestinian residents of Jerusalem to participate in presidential and parliamentary elections.
The Hamas spokesman stressed that his movement had not asked for any ministries because a new unity government would not include Fatah or Hamas members.
Another Hamas official, Salah Bardaweel, denied that the movement was divided over the Qatari-engineered reconciliation accord. He pointed out that following a 14- hour meeting in Cairo last week, the group’s political bureau had unanimously come out in favor of the deal.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.