PA-Hamas reconciliation suffers setback as Abbas aide calls Mashaal a liar

The two parties informed the Egyptians that they would not attend the Cairo talks because they did not believe that the time was ripe for reconciliation.

Mashaal 224 (photo credit: AP)
Mashaal 224
(photo credit: AP)
Arab efforts to end the Hamas-Fatah dispute suffered a setback Thursday when a close aide to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal as a liar. At the invitation of the Egyptian government, Hamas and Fatah representatives had been scheduled to meet in Cairo earlier this week for talks on ways of ending the ongoing crisis in the PA-controlled territories. However, the two parties informed the Egyptians that they would not attend the Cairo talks because they did not believe that the time was ripe for reconciliation. Hamas's decision to boycott the talks came in response to Abbas's refusal to meet with Mashaal during his visit to Syria last weekend. Hamas said Abbas's move was an indication that the PA president and his Fatah faction were not prepared for a serious dialogue that would end the dispute. Fatah, on the other hand, accused Hamas of failing to accept Abbas's recent initiative for holding unconditional talks between the two parties. Fatah spokesmen said Hamas was still not prepared to end its "coup" in the Gaza Strip and recognize Abbas's legitimacy. "Hamas does not want reconciliation and is continuing to work toward establishing an Islamic emirate in Palestine," said Azzam Ahmed, a senior Fatah official closely associated with Abbas. Asked about remarks attributed to Abbas to the effect that he did not want to meet with Mashaal because the latter was a "liar," Ahmed said: "Yes, it's true. President Abbas did call Mashaal a liar because Mashaal lied to him several times. I also heard many Arabs say that Mashaal is a liar. In my opinion, Hamas lies each time it breathes. They are hiding under the cover of Islam." Ahmed also accused Iran and Syria of inciting Hamas against returning to the negotiating table with Fatah. Hamas, he added, receives instructions from the international leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood organization. "Even the decision to form an alliance with Iran and Syria does not belong to Hamas," he said. "The decision came from the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Iranians and Syrians are continuing to incite Hamas." Ahmed said that Abbas had decided to call off a meeting with Mashaal in Damascus after learning that the Hamas leader had sent a letter to some Arab leaders in which he accused the PA president of succumbing to US pressure to boycott Hamas. The Fatah official said that as far as he was concerned, Abbas should not meet with any Hamas representative. "Meeting with Hamas is tantamount to treason," Ahmed was quoted by the daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi as saying. "Meeting with Hamas under the current circumstances means consolidating the division [between the West Bank and Gaza Strip]. Mashaal carried out an armed rebellion and we should not meet with him." In response to Ahmed's allegations, Mohammed Nazzal, a senior Hamas official, accused the Fatah official of using "filthy words." Referring to the allegation that Mashaal is a liar, Nazzal said: "Mashaal is more truthful than Azzam Ahmed and his boss, Mahmoud Abbas." Nazzal said he was proud that Hamas was being accused of receiving instructions from the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood. "It's much better than receiving orders from America and Israel," he said. "At least we don't receive instructions from [US Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice like the Fatah people."