Daily Israel Report
Show More

OpEds


Hamas Bait and Switch in Cairo

Hamas reneged on a deal to form a unity government with Fatah and demanded new terms in Cairo.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 2/23/2012, 6:22 PM

Abbas and Mashaal in Egypt
Abbas and Mashaal in Egypt
Reuters


Hamas on Thursday reneged on previous agreement for implementing a reconciliation deal with PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas's rival Fatah faction and outlined new terms.

Abbas and Hamas politburo Khaled Mashaal agreed in Qatar earlier this month to form a unity government led by the Western-backed president.

However, a growing rift between Hamas' political leadership outside of Gaza and officials in the Hamas-ruled enclave over the terror group's direction resulted in sharp criticism for the agreement.

At an internal meeting chaired by Mashaal in Cairo on Wednesday, Hamas officials reportedly presented him with a united demanding new terms for a unity government with Fatah.

Mashaal has tentatively accepted the notion of a state on the 1967 borders, and offered Abbas a one-year mandate for negotiations with Israel – though his fellow politburo members maintain any agreement with Israel will only serve as a “prelude to war.”

However, Hamas’ Gaza chief Ismail Haniyeh maintains that all talks with Israel are “futile” and believes the tide of the Arab Spring will lead to victory in the movement’s armed quest to destroy the Jewish state.

An official familiar with the terms told the Bethlehem-based Maan News Agency that Abbas would almost certainly reject the new terms.

"Hamas demanded to keep the key ministries in the new government, including the ministry of interior," said the official. "It also demanded no change in the structure of security services in the Gaza Strip."

The Interior Ministry controls the Hamas 'security services.' Additionally, the source said Hamas "was not prepared to abandon control of Gaza."

In essence, the new terms would allow Hamas to retain sole control over Gaza while giving it a say in the running of PA enclaves in Judea and Samaria.

Abbas has been seeking a unity government staffed by independents and technocrats to ensure it would not be boycotted by the West, which donates essential funds to his Palestinian Authority and refuses to deal with Hamas.

Other demands that emerged from the Cairo meeting included naming a Gaza-based deputy to Abbas, and making his appointment as prime minister conditional on a vote of confidence in the Palestinian parliament.