Hamas to charge Fayad with aiding Israel

Group accuses PA premier of "squandering" public funds, official claims US "imposed" him on Abbas.

fayad 248 88 (photo credit: AP)
fayad 248 88
(photo credit: AP)
Hamas announced on Tuesday that it was planning to press charges against Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad for "collaboration" with Israel and "squandering" public funds. The announcement came as Egypt said it had postponed reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah until the first week of April. The talks, which were called off last week after the two parties failed to reach agreement over the formation of a Palestinian unity government, were supposed to resume later this week. Hamas's threat to prosecute Fayad is likely to hamper Egypt's efforts to end the power struggle between the Islamist movement and Fatah. Fayad could either be charged in absentia (in Gaza), or arrested if he decides to enter the Strip. Earlier this month, Fayad submitted his resignation to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, saying he did not want to be an obstacle to the establishment of a unity government. His resignation is scheduled to go into effect at the end of this month. Hamas leaders have repeatedly stressed that they would stay away from any government headed by Fayad. Salah Bardaweel, a Hamas legislator who participated in the recent Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation talks with Fatah in Cairo, said that his movement was seeking to put Fayad on trial for betraying the Palestinians. "We don't trust Fayad, and we won't accept him in any position in a new government," he said. "This man has a dark record; he's responsible for security coordination with the Zionist enemy, political arrests [of Hamas supporters] in the West Bank and squandering public funds belonging to the Palestinian people." Bardaweel claimed that Fayad had been "imposed" on Abbas by the Americans. "He became prime minister in violation of the Palestinian Basic Law," he added. "His government never won the approval of the Palestinian Legislative Council. He's a problematic figure." Regarding the Hamas-Fatah talks, Bardaweel accused Abbas of succumbing to US pressure. He said the last round of discussions, which lasted for 10 days, had ended without an agreement because of a US "veto" against the unconditional participation of Hamas in a unity government. The Hamas official said that although he did not believe that Fatah would be able to resist the alleged American pressure, there was still hope that the two parties would be able to reach agreement on the formation of a unity government. Sources close to Hamas and Fatah said the Egyptians had decided to delay the talks because they were preoccupied with the upcoming Arab summit, due to be held in Qatar at the end of the month. The main purpose of the planned summit is to resolve differences between Arab presidents and monarchs. The two sides remain at odds over the composition and political platform of the proposed unity government, as well the timing and nature of the next presidential and legislative elections and the reconstruction of the Palestinian security forces. Fatah wants a government of independent technocrats with no political affiliations, while Hamas insists on having its representatives in the new coalition. Hamas also remains strongly opposed to Fatah's demand that the unity government recognize Israel and previous agreements between the Palestinians and Israelis. The Egyptians have been putting heavy pressure on Hamas and Fatah to patch up their differences and form a unity government that would start rebuilding the Gaza Strip with the help of the international community. Despite the Egyptian efforts, the two parties continued to trade allegations over responsibility for the failure of the last session of reconciliation talks. Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior Fatah official who attended the Cairo discussions, said the gap between the two parties was still very wide. He accused Hamas of participating in the talks at a time when its leaders were not prepared to sign any agreement. "Frankly speaking, we were evolving in a vicious cycle in Cairo," he said. "Hamas has not changed its position regarding the main controversial issues. We were just repeating our words, and we had nothing new to say." Ahmed added that Hamas was negotiating with Fatah as if it were an independent state talking to another state. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum retorted that it was Fatah, and not Hamas, that had come to the Cairo talks unprepared. He said that divisions among members of the Fatah delegation in relation to the talks were among the main reasons behind the collapse of the discussions. Barhoum said Abbas had sought to foil the talks by launching a massive arrest campaign against Hamas supporters and members in the West Bank while the two parties were sitting around the negotiating table in the Egyptian capital. He also accused Abbas of failing to stop the "anti-Hamas incitement" in Fatah-controlled newspapers and TV stations during the talks.