amas has opposed Fatah’s nomination of Salam Fayyad for the post of prime minister in a transitional Palestinian government, exposing differences over implementing a Palestinian reconciliation deal between the rival groups.
At a meeting late on Saturday, Fatah’s Central Committee, the secular movement’s highest decision-making body, named Fayyad, an internationally respected former World Bank economist, as its candidate for prime minister.
But on Sunday, two days before talks with Fatah in Egypt on cabinet staffing were due to begin, Salah al-Bardaweel, a senior Hamas official, said: "It is certain that we will not accept Fayyad, neither as a prime minister of the unity government nor as a minister in it."
Bardaweel accused Fayyad of co-operating with Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip. He said that Fayyad, as prime minister, shared responsibility for the arrest of Hamas leaders and members in the West Bank in recent years.
Asked whether Hamas’s rejection of Fayyad would hinder reconciliation, Bardaweel stopped short of declaring the deal dead but he cautioned against any cabinet nomination that would be seen by any side as a provocation.
Jamal Mhesen, a Fatah Central Committee member, said Fatah wanted a prime minister who could attract international support – a leader "whose job would be to end the blockade of Gaza, not to cause a blockade in the West Bank, too".
Supporters of Fayyad, an independent, say his standing abroad is an asset to the Palestinians in ensuring the continued flow of international aid and in pursuing a bid for UN statehood recognition in September.
But Israel has said the reconciliation agreement signed in April is an obstacle to reviving US-sponsored peace talks with Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and Fatah leader, whose forces lost control of the Gaza Strip to Hamas in fighting in 2007.
Under the unity deal, Hamas and Fatah agreed to set up an interim government of technocrats, or ministers who are not members of any political movement, in the run-up to elections within a year.
Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, called on Abbas to tear up the agreement with Hamas, which has rejected Israeli and Western demands to recognise Israel, renounce violence and accept existing interim peace deals signed by the Fatah-led Palestine Liberation Organisation in the 1990s.
(Agencies via Al Jazeera)