Several senior European Union officials have recently come out in support of joint Fatah-Hamas control of the Palestinian Authority. They were joined Monday by temporary EU president Vaclav Klaus, the president of the Czech Republic, who said unity among the various PA factions was key to meaningful talks between the PA and Israel.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg made similar statements last month, saying, “We believe that Palestinian reconciliation behind president Mahmoud Abbas is fundamental to progress.”
Another senior official who has promoted Fatah-Hamas reunification is British Foreign Secretary David Miliband. “The reunification of the Palestinian people with a single voice to speak for them, to speak for the West Bank and for Gaza is absolutely essential,” Miliband said following the Cast Lead Operation in Gaza.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana has called for Hamas to rejoin Fatah as well. Solana qualified his statement by saying that a unified Fatah-Hamas PA “has to be a team of people that will continue trying to obtain what is the desperation of so many people, which is two states, and two states that can live together.”
Solana and other senior EU diplomats agreed in January to “give some room to Abbas” by loosening the EU's conditions for negotiations between the PA and Israel, allowing Abbas to accept Hamas into his coalition.
The EU insists that the PA recognize Israel and respect previous agreements signed with the Jewish state, two conditions that Hamas violates in its charter, in which it rejects the presence of Israel in any form and calls to obliterate the state through armed force.
Hamas-Fatah Talks in Trouble?
While the EU increasingly switches to support PA “unity,” talks between Fatah and Hamas have hit another rough patch due to Hamas' statements this week accusing Fatah members of running a spy ring and assisting the IDF during Operation Cast Lead.
Hamas released a tape purportedly documenting Fatah terrorists' confessions to having helped Israel during the campaign. Fatah leaders dismissed the claim as an attempt to sabotage unity talks.
Another potential stumbling block is the position held by senior Fatah member Samir Mashharawi. Mashharawi is a member of Fatah's delegation in talks with Hamas, and is considered by Hamas to be among its senior opponents in Gaza. His appointment sparked angry reactions from Hamas leaders.
Mashharawi expressed willingness to bow out of the delegation if necessary, but criticized Hamas for interfering in Fatah's affairs.
The two rival terrorist groups have also been torn apart by rumors of detention, torture and slayings on both sides. Hamas has accused Fatah of killing at least one of its members in Samaria recently, as well as torturing Hamas terrorists last year, and Fatah has accused Hamas of using recent IDF operations in Gaza as an excuse to target Fatah, killing and maiming dozens.