Hamas Mum on Abbas Overture

Hamas has yet to issue an official response to a statement by PA Chairman Abbas that he was ready to visit Gaza "at any time" for reconciliation.

Gabe Kahn. , | updated: 7:30 PM

Abbas holding model of area he wants for Pal.
Abbas holding model of area he wants for Pal.
Israel news photo: palwatch.org

Hamas has yet to issue an official response to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mamoud Abbas' announcement he will be visiting Gaza in order to reach a reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas, the Xinhua News Agency reports.

Abbas' announcement came shortly after Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called on Abbas to enter into a comprehensive dialog for reunification. At a meeting of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Central Council the PA Chairman said he was willing to go to Gaza at any time to reconcile and form a new government.

However, Arab observers said disputes stemming from the ongoing rivalry between Hamas and Fatah would likely scuttle Abbas' visit to the enclave, adding they were dubious of such a visit's chance of success.

Haniyeh and Abbas' respective calls for ending the often violent feud between their factions follow on the heels of large grass roots rallies and protests demanding they reconcile. Hani Habib, a Gaza-based political analyst, explained the widespread dissatisfaction with the two movements, saying, "The dialogue over the past three years was useless."

"Abbas apparently is fed up with the useless dialogue, and he wants to directly end the division, form a government, and prepare for the elections," said Habib.

In Damascus, Hamas' Ezzat al-Resheg was circumspect about Abbas' overture, "Abbas' recent statements were made to skip over the initiative of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh , who called for launching a dialogue that ends the current division and agrees on a specific political program for the Palestinian cause."

Al-Resheg insisted that if Abbas' visit aims at just forming an independent national government, and not to enter dialogue with Hamas and the other Palestinian factions, "we believe that there will be no need for this visit at all."

Hamas has ruled Gaza independently of Fatah since carrying out a bloody coup there in June 2007.

Meanwhile, Saeb Erekat, a member of PLO executive committee, accused Hamas movement of obstructing Abbas' proposed visit, "because Hamas' interests are linked to foreign agendas."

"It is astonishing why Hamas movement rejects the initiative of President Abbas although the initiative calls for forming a national unity government and holding general elections," Erekat told Palestine Radio.

Calling on the population of Gaza "to speak their peace and raise their voice higher and say the division must end as soon as possible," Erekat added the ongoing rivalry "has become a sword in the hands of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that is put on our necks."

Hani al-Masri, a political analyst in Samaria, described the distance between the competing Fatah and Hamas movements as "still large... and the efforts to achieve the reconciliation has not become fruitful because the two sides are still sticking to their own demands, and they don't care about the dangers that are waiting for them."



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