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Abbas meets Mashaal in Cairo 311 (R).(Photo by: REUTERS/Mohamed Al Hams/Handout)
Fatah-Hamas reconciliation hits more bumps
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
11/26/2011
Little progress made between Abbas, Mashaal on 2 main issues: Security forces and gov't make-up, Fatah, Hamas officials say.
Efforts to achieve reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas have stumbled over the formation of a Palestinian unity government and the reconstruction of the Palestinian Authority security forces, representatives of the two rival parties said over the weekend.

Hamas, meanwhile, denied a report that claimed that it has agreed to abandon the “armed struggle” against Israel in favor of a peaceful and popular “resistance” against settlers and IDF soldiers.

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Hamas did not make any pledge to suspend the armed struggle against Israel, said Hamas legislator Salah Bardaweel.

“These reports [in the Arab media] are untrue,” he said.

Following last Thursday’s summit in Cairo between PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, the two sides expressed optimism regarding the prospects of implementing the Egyptian-engineered reconciliation deal that was announced last May.

Both Abbas and Mashaal described their talks as “positive” and said they had agreed to work as “partners” and share the same responsibilities.

The two men also announced that they agreed to open a new page in relations between Hamas and Fatah. Abbas said that there were no differences between Fatah and Hamas and that the two parties would work together to implement the reconciliation deal.

But over the weekend it transpired that differences between the two parties remained almost the same as they were before the summit.

In addition to the ongoing dispute over the make-up of the proposed unity government, Fatah and Hamas have failed to solve their differences over the reconstruction of the security forces and the release of detainees being held by both sides in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“The 45-minute meeting between President Abbas and Khaled Mashaal was not as successful as it is being portrayed,” a senior Fatah official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post. “The most important thing was that the two leaders met and agreed to continue talking about reconciliation and unity. It will take a long time before we ever see real changes on the ground.”

The official said that because of the continued differences, Hamas and Fatah decided to hold another round of talks in Cairo next month.

He said that Hamas’s refusal to accept current PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as head of any future government remained a major obstacle to the implementation of the reconciliation deal.

Abbas explained to Mashaal that without Fayyad the Palestinians would be punished by the Americans and Europeans, the official said.

“But this did not change Mashaal’s position. Hamas believes that in wake of the Arab Spring, Arab governments would compensate the Palestinians for any loss of Western financial aid,” the official said.
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