Detentions Threaten Hamas, Fatah Talks

Committees working on the terms of a reconciliation deal between Fatah and Hamas have made little progress, and increasing political detentions may threaten the accord, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said on Monday.

At the last meeting in Cairo, Hamas gave the Fatah delegation a list of 104 affiliates detained in West Bank jails, compared to 35 names on the table when the agreement was signed in May, Barhoum told Ma’an.

Seven months later, the deal to unite Gaza and the West Bank under a single administration, and solve divisive issues including the structure of the PLO, a national security force, the holding of fair elections, and release of political detainees, has yet to be implemented.

Committees appointed to resolve these issues have met several times since May, but without any tangible positive outcome on the ground, Barhoum said on Monday.

He blamed the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by the Fatah party, Hamas’ long-term rivals who they ousted from the Gaza Strip in 2007 a year after winning elections from Fatah incumbents.

"Seemingly there is a problem within the PA negatively affecting reconciliation efforts," Barhoum said.

Fatah leader President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal met in the Egyptian capital on Nov. 24 for the first time since signing the accord, and said they had resolved all differences between them, raising hopes of progress towards a single government and the first elections in five years.

But expectations that a new unity government of technocrats would be appointed to pave the way to elections has yet to see any light, and senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad said earlier this week that elections slated for May 2012 could not go ahead until a unity cabinet has been established.

Barhoum’s frustration with the lack of results is mirrored by his Fatah rivals.

A Fatah official told Ma’an on condition of anonymity last week that reconciliation had failed to advance despite the positive statements after the November leaders’ summit.

The talks were promising, but bold decisions were needed to implement the reconciliation agreement, he said.

Meanwhile, other Palestinian political groups returning from talks in support of the deal with Egyptian officials in Cairo last week, on Monday restated their commitment to participating in the reconciliation.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Central Committee member Kayed Al-Ghoul called on all Palestinian factions to take part in setting mechanisms to implement the agreement on the ground.

Palestinian National Initiative chief Mustafa Barghouthi said the talks in the Egyptian capital addressed ways to set up a national and united leadership.

Rivalry between Fatah and Hamas exploded into near-civil war in 2007, with both sides accusing the other of engaging in violent subterfuge to gain power, and waging a campaign of repression against their affiliates ever since.

(Ma’an News)

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