Hamas-Fatah talks resume amid tension

Head of Fatah bloc in PLC: Gap between two sides remains as wide as ever.

hanieyh, jordan rep 298  (photo credit: AP)
hanieyh, jordan rep 298
(photo credit: AP)
Representatives of Hamas and Fatah met in Gaza City on Wednesday for more talks on the formation of a new cabinet amid growing tensions between the two parties following the confrontation at the Palestinian Legislative Council meeting earlier this week. PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas was expected to arrive in Gaza City later Wednesday for talks with prime minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh on the prospects of forming a national unity cabinet. Azzam al Ahmed, head of the Fatah bloc in the PLC, said the gap between the two sides remains as wide as ever and ruled out the possibility that his part would join a Hamas-led cabinet. He said that the PLC' decision to cancel all laws that were passed by the outgoing council made it almost impossible for Fatah to participate in the new cabinet. Ahmed, who met with Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar in Gaza City, also said that Hamas was no longer interested in forming a coalition with Fatah. "We asked Hamas for a document that outlines their political platform, but until now they haven't responded," he said. "Zahar told me that they still haven't prepared the document." He added: "Hamas says that it is waiting for our reply regarding their offer to join the cabinet, but the truth is that we are waiting for their response. Apparently, they are not interested in this partnership." Ahmed pointed out that the Fatah revolutionary council, which met over the weekend in Ramallah, placed restrictions on the party's participation in the cabinet. The most important condition, he said, was the endorsement by the new cabinet of the political agenda of the PA. Ahmed Abdel Rahman, another top Fatah official, said Hamas's behavior during the PLC session had "closed all doors in front of Fatah's participation in the cabinet. Nabil Amr, a former Fatah minister and member of the revolutionary council, said that what happened at the session strengthened the position of those who oppose joining a Hamas cabinet. "Today there is a majority in the revolutionary council that opposes joining a Hamas cabinet," he said. Meanwhile, sources close to Hamas said on Wednesday that the new cabinet could be announced as early as next week. According to the sources, the 14-member cabinet would include two women. One of them is Khaledah Jarar, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who is expected to be appointed Minister for Women Affairs. The sources said that Mahmoud Zahar and independent candidate Ziad Abu Amr were the strongest candidates for holding the foreign affairs portfolio. Said Siam, a top Hamas official from the Gaza Strip, is being mentioned as a possible candidate to run the interior ministry, which is responsible for the security forces, the sources added. Jerusalem-based Hamas leader Mohammed Abu Tair is expected to take the Ministry for Jerusalem Affairs.