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Fatah-Hamas Unity? Not This Year

Both Fatah and Hamas politburo members say Hamas' Gaza leadership are obstructing the implementation of a unity deal agreed on in Qatar.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 3/15/2012, 3:02 PM

Hamas leader Mashaal and PA's Abbas in Cairo
Hamas leader Mashaal and PA's Abbas in Cairo
Reuters

Fatah officials on Wednesday admitted they do not expect Hamas leaders in Gaza to follow through on its end of the Cairo reconciliation deal "anytime soon."

The now-itinerant Hamas politburo agreed to a deal in Qatar with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to form an interim government of technocrats.

However, Hamas leaders in Gaza ambushed politburo chief Khaled Mashaal after-the-fact with a raft of new demands observers say Fatah will never agree to.

The last minute bait-and-switch by the terror organization’s Gaza leadership underscores a deepening rift within Hamas.

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.”

But 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.

Hamas demanded all the key ministries in the new government, including the ministry of interior, and insisted no structural changes to Gaza's security forces – staffed by its terror militiamen – be made.

The demands effectively leave Hamas in sole control of Gaza while giving it influence over PA enclaves in Judea and Samaria as well.

Hamas leaders in Gaza have blamed the delay in implementing the Abbas-Mashaal deal on Fatah, saying they continue to arrest Hamas members in their enclaves – and to cooperate with Israeli security forces.

Last autumn, the IDF and Shin Bet uncovered a network of Hamas terror cells in Judea and Samaria in various stages of planning attacks on Israelis. The discovery led to an ongoing full-court press by Israeli security services in the region.

PA officials have both condemned and cooperated with the ongoing raids and arrests of terror suspects in Judea and Samaria in the same breath.

Mashaal, whose politburo decamped in Damascus among the rising violence in Syria, is reportedly trying to persuade Haniyeh and his Gaza confederates to implement the deal without changes.

"The delay is so Hamas' leadership (in Gaza) can be persuaded. Abu Mazen knows that," a source close to Mashaal said, adding "Maybe next year."

The source added Hamas and Iran remain at odds due to the terror group’s criticism of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's brutal crackdown, and decision to leave the country.