Reconciliation in limbo
Saleh Al-Naami finds out that Hamas and Fatah are still deeply at odds
On Sunday afternoon, Al-Amal district, west of Khan Younis in southern
While Dahlan's mother has now been buried, the continued controversy over what occurred is indicative of the deep differences between the two Palestinian political movements. Reporters were swamped with news releases from both sides on this issue, which occurred at a time when more Arab players are becoming involved in mediation efforts between Fatah and Hamas. In fact, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Mohamed Al-Sabah unexpectedly announced Sunday that a meeting between President Mahmoud Abbas and the head of Hamas's Political Bureau, Khaled Meshaal, would take place within 10 days.
This claim was vehemently denied by both groups. A leading member of Hamas told Al-Ahram Weekly that after consultations with leaders of the group inside and outside the territories, it appears that no such meeting is scheduled. He noted that neither party has changed its position in a way that would allow such an encounter to take place. According to this source, the main obstacle to progress in reconciliation efforts is differences over the Egyptian proposal. His group refuses to sign the agreement as it stands without revisions, while
The source added that the Kuwaiti government offered to mediate between the two sides, and top Kuwaiti officials recently met with a delegation from Hamas in the Gulf state to discuss the prerequisites for re-launching dialogue and ending internal divisions. But no specific agreement was reached on any particular issue. The Hamas source added that all Arab parties willing to mediate insist that they are working within the Egyptian framework, and not as an alternative to it.
Fatah also denied an imminent meeting between Abbas and Meshaal, saying that such an encounter would only be possible once Hamas agrees to the Egyptian proposal without preconditions. Azzam Al-Ahmed, a member of the group's Central Committee and leader of its parliamentary bloc, stressed that any meetings between Abbas and Hamas leaders is contingent on Hamas signing on to the Egyptian ideas, which Fatah has already done. "We are waiting for Hamas to sign any time it is ready," stated Al-Ahmed. "Within one hour, half an hour, even 15 minutes, there will be a meeting with them. Otherwise, this will never take place." He also placed a condition that Hamas must go to
Al-Ahmed accused Hamas of "evading conciliation in the hope of maintaining Palestinian divisions", and insisted that
"They aimed to improve their image in Arab capitals in light of their connection with the Iranian project," asserted Al-Ahmed, adding that in most
Nonetheless, there are some Palestinians who believe that the Arab summit in
"The high volume of visits to regional and Gulf capitals, along with recent trips by Abbas and Meshaal, indicate that the upcoming Arab summit will be decisive regarding the future of mediation efforts," Al-Wadeya told the Weekly.
Al-Wadeya believes Arab leaders will be faced with the real challenge of closing the gap among Palestinian factions. Ending division, he asserted, is one of the basic requirements of Arab national security. Al-Wadeya urged Palestinian factions to be responsive to Arab efforts to achieve reconciliation under the auspices of
The question now is whether progress is actually possible on the dialogue track, in light of unprecedented and severe tensions between
The source divulged that contacts have already been made between top Egyptian intelligence officials and chief Hamas members and the Hamas government with the aim of arriving at a set of ground rules that would minimise border clashes in the future. The source added that despite the wrangling,
Gaza Prime Minister Haniyeh described current tensions in relations with
"We regard both Palestinian and Egyptian blood as sacred to us," he asserted. "We do not turn our backs on one drop of Arab or Muslim blood." Haniyeh noted that an extensive investigation of the border events is underway by authorities in
Haniyeh insisted that, "We aim to achieve reconciliation and are serious about it," noting that a decision to reconcile has been made and will not be reversed because it is a national obligation.
Asked about the possibility of another Arab party participating in mediation efforts, Haniyeh indicated that, "since
Haniyeh believes that in light of many failed attempts to reach a settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict, a Palestinian-Arab strategy must be drawn up to help regain the initiative and to confront
The link: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2010/982/re4.htm