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      Abbas-Mashaal Meeting Cancelled, Hamas Blames Fatah

      No hopes yet for implementation of Hamas-Fatah unity. Sides continue to blame one another for lack of progress.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 2/3/2012, 7:14 AM

      Abbas and Mashaal
      Abbas and Mashaal
      Flash 90

      Hamas blamed Fatah on Thursday for the deadlock in progress toward reconciliation, saying it has avoided holding a meeting on a framework for the leadership.

      Hamas’ spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency that Hamas was committed to holding the meeting of the PLO interim leadership, but that Fatah was avoiding the meeting.

      Though he did not specify how Fatah was avoiding the meeting, Ma’an noted, Abu Zuhri called Fatah's intransigence “evidence they are not serious” about unity.

      Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas’ politburo chief Khaled Mashaal were scheduled to meet in Amman on Thursday and agree on the structure of a national unity government, but that meeting was delayed.

      Fatah member Jamal Muheisin told Ma’an the delay was caused by preparations for an Arab League meeting, where Abbas is scheduled to give an update on the exploratory talks held with Israel in Jordan, as well as by internal discussions. A new date for the meeting has not been set.

      Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation deal last May last year to end four years of hostilities after Hamas violently took control of Gaza in 2007, but neither side so far seems to be willing to implement it.

      The deal set out a path to elections within a year and the appointment of an interim government, but the parties could not agree on a candidate to lead the unity government. A much ballyhooed announcement by the two sides that Hamas would join the PLO has also failed to bear fruit, and both sides admitted last week that elections in May are unlikely.

      The two sides have continued bickering despite the agreement. Although Hamas recently threw a massive celebration to mark the 24th anniversary of its founding, it recently banned any similar festivities in Gaza to likewise mark the anniversary of the founding of the rival Fatah faction. Last month, Hamas denied a delegation of senior Fatah officials entry to Gaza.

      Senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan blamed Fatah for postponing the meeting between Abbas and Mashaal and for not setting a new date, telling Ma’an, “We didn’t feel that Fatah is doing any progress or any efforts in this case.”

      He stated that Hamas is dedicated to national unity.