Hamas Leader Denies Party Split over Unity Deal

A top party official Ahmad Yousef denied Thursday that Hamas was split on a plan to reconcile the occupied territories, saying misunderstandings were due to the sudden nature of the announcement.

"Perhaps the announcement of the Doha meeting was surprising for everyone, including the dialogue committees, as Qatar provided the guarantees for this new government," Yousef said.

But there "won’t be any split in the Hamas movement; there are institutions that don’t allow this to happen, and the difference in opinion is due to the sudden announcement of the meeting,” he told Ma’an.

“The national consensus is above the law, and the dispute about (President Mahmoud) Abbas leading both the unity government and the PA will be resolved after finding a solution through lawyers.

"This issue doesn’t need all this criticism because we are going through a transitional time, through exceptional circumstances, and the most important thing is achieving reconciliation,” Yousef added.

He added that Abbas had initially rejected the new position, but agreed after consulting with the Americans and Europeans as well as Qatar, which sponsored the deal, about guarantees for the agreement.

He also said Khalied Mashaal could be re-elected as leader of Hamas.

Yousef’s comments come amid concerns brought by Hamas’ "change and reform" parliamentary committee, which urged parties involved in the Doha agreement to review its adherence to Palestinian law.

The parliamentary bloc came out against a key clause in the pact under which Abbas would serve both as president and prime minister of a future government.

The legislative bloc includes Hamas’ top Gaza-based leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud Zahhar. They did not attend the ceremony in Qatar where Mashaal and Abbas signed the agreement Monday.

On Wednesday, Fatah official Azzam Ahmad dismissed criticism that the move had no standing in Palestinian law, saying, "I advise those who reject this to read the laws again; we are a presidential system, not parliamentary."

Analysts have long spoken of a split within Hamas between those in the movement who have controlled the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip for the past five years and Mashaal, who had made his base in Damascus.

"We call upon the parties who signed and those who sponsored Palestinian reconciliation to reconsider and … not to bypass Palestinian law," the parliamentary bloc said in a statement, arguing that a dual presidential-prime ministerial role for Abbas would be illegal.

The deal was aimed at reuniting the deeply split Palestinian national movement after past accords that followed Hamas’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007 failed to get off the ground over disagreements over who would head a new government.

The accord is supposed to open the way for presidential and parliamentary election possibly later this year, and to rebuild the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip following a 2008-2009 Israeli offensive.

(Ma’an News)

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