Fatah and Hamas appear able to agree just one thing, that elections be postponed. Saleh Al-Naami examines the causes, and ramifications, of a dispute that serves to exacerbate the suffering of ordinary Palestinians
Beneath the blazing sun Ahmed Al-Sheify continues to search the lists of names tacked to the wall of a school next to a police headquarters in the west of
The payment, supplemented by aid from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which supplies basic food necessities, allows Al-Sheify's family of six to survive. The thing that most frustrates him is that he will be forced to live on such handouts until an agreement is reached that can end internal Palestinian divisions.
Al-Sheify is not alone in despairing at the petty back-and-forth squabbling between Fatah and Hamas. Each group blames the other for the failure of the latest round of talks in
Majed Faraj, a member of the Fatah delegation, said Fatah had demanded Hamas recognise the existence of the security forces in
Salah Al-Bardawil, a member of Hamas delegation to
Speaking to Al-Ahram Weekly Al-Bardawil said that Fatah had objected to Egyptian proposals calling for the formation of a joint committee to oversee the administration of the Gaza Strip, as well as a joint security force. He also said Fatah had refused to discuss the issue of political prisoners.
Ashraf Gomaa, a senior Fatah legislator, refutes such charges, and has accused Hamas of trying to reach a political deal that guarantees its continued control over
"It is clear that people are looking after their own interests, especially when it comes to political detainees. The Fatah movement is against political arrests. We do not arrest anyone. We are seeking the release of prisoners in the
Fatah and Hamas at least agreed to postpone elections that were scheduled to be held on 25 January. The Weekly has learned that an understanding to this effect was reached in the second round of talks held last Sunday in
While Fatah leaders are publicly in favour of elections now, in private they are worried that they will be defeated at the ballot box. They fear the Palestinian Authority's failure to persuade Palestinians, especially those in the West Bank, to reach a settlement with
Nor does Hamas see elections as being in its own interest as long as
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri has said that the movement is predicating elections on a number of conditions. It is demanding the restructuring of the Electoral Commission and the Judicial Committee which oversee elections. It also wants guarantees that the siege of
"Political indicators confirm the inability of the two Palestinian factions to bridge the divide between them, which means that elections will not be held on schedule," says Hassan Khreisheh, independent second deputy speaker of the Legislative Council. "If the elections are not held on time the Legislative Council will continue to exist along current lines, i.e. those who are from the West Bank will remain in the West Bank, and those from
Should that happen, argues Khreisheh, President Mahmoud Abbas will lose constitutional legitimacy, opening a political vacuum that will remain until presidential elections are held.
The Weekly has learned that
"For this reason, those who want to travel must submit a request to the government in
In the meantime, Palestinians are paying close attention to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's stance, not least his refusal to take a single step towards resolving the conflict through peaceful means. This, in turn, affects the credibility of the positions put forward by President Abbas and Fayyad's government. Netanyahu has openly challenged the
Netanyahu's challenge followed reports in Haaretz newspaper that Israeli decision-makers had started to take Obama's admonitions lightly, characterising the
"What does an American do when he discovers his house is a wreck, or that his washing machine is not working?
Easy, he calls on Obama to give a speech. Problem solved."
The link: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2009/957/fr1.htm