Fatah Delegation Makes Rare Gaza Visit

A senior Fatah delegation made a rare high-profile visit to Hamas-run Gaza in a bid for elections, and to organize local leaders.

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Gabe Kahn,

Nabil Shaath
Nabil Shaath
Flash 90

A Fatah delegation from Ramallah made a high-profile visit to Gaza on Wednesday to hold talks with local faction-members and other groups in the Hamas-run enclave.

Ahead of the visit, Fatah Central Committee member Muhammad al-Madani told the Bethlehem-based Maan News Agency that he, and senior Fatah members Nabil Shaath and Amin Maqboul would form the delegation.

He declined to discuss the goal of the visit, but said the agenda may include meetings with Hamas officials.

Another Fatah official, Atif Abu Seif, told Ma'an the Fatah delegation were tasked with arranging some internal party issues in Gaza.

Abu Seif said the delegation would also hold taks with other factions in Gaza in hopes of pushing forward Palestinian Authority elections.

Fatah has in recent months begun laying the groundwork to wrest Gaza from Hamas should elections be held, and appointed new leaders in the enclave tasked with doing so.

A central figure in Fatah's plans to restructure in Gaza is Yazid Hawihi, the favorite to replace Abdullah Abu Samhadana as the Fatah chairman in Gaza.

Hawihi, 50, is from Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza. Six months ago he was released from an Israeli jail where he had served five years after being convicted of terrorism related charges.

The spokesman of the Hamas-run government in Gaza Tahir al-Nunu said Tuesday that premier Ismail Haniyeh welcomed the Fatah officials to Gaza in a phone call with Shaath.

Hamas and Fatah have been feuding since Hamas seized Gaza from Fatah in a bloody 2007 putsch.

The two factions signed a reconciliation agreement in Cairo in May 2011, but the promised unity government has yet to materialize.

Earlier this year, Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas reached a formula for implementing the deal in Dubai.

However, their efforts resulted in another public failure, and underscored growing tension between the Hamas politburo in exile and its Gaza leaders.

Mashaal tentatively accepted the notion of a state on the 1967 borders, and offered PA chairman Mahmoud 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.

Amid the disagreement, Haniyeh and his cohorts imposed new demands Mashaal had not agreed to, effectively scuttling the deal again.

Observers say the two factions' inability to reconcile renders Fatah's push for elections effectively moot.