Last updated: 12 January, 2012

Hamas, Fatah see differing causes for reconciliation delay

Gaza’s Hamas leader on Thursday blamed Israeli interference and unspecified “external pressures” for a delay in implementing reconciliation with the rival Fatah movement.

But a senior Fatah official said the real cause of the hold-up was internal divisions within Hamas itself.

“Palestinian reconciliation is confronted by external pressures and by Israeli interference meant to block it and delay its implementation on the ground,” Ismail Haniya, premier in Hamas-ruled Gaza, told a public meeting with MPs and delegates of other Palestinian factions in Gaza City.

On Saturday he will meet delegations from Hamas and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Fatah, Hamas MP Ismail al-Ashqar said after Thursday’s meeting, in a fresh move to push ahead with the rapprochement signed in April following years of bitter rivalry.

The 2007 Hamas takeover of Gaza politically divided the Palestinian territories, with Abbas’s Fatah left largely ruling the West Bank and recognised internationally as the official Palestinian authority.

Last month, Abbas met Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal in Cairo and the two agreed on a process that could pave the way for the Islamist group to join a reformed Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and for long-delayed Palestinian elections.

Amin Maqbul, secretary general of Fatah’s revolutionary council, said that it was divisions between the exiled Meshaal and the Hamas leadership within the Gaza Strip which lay at the root of the delay in implementation.

“We know that there are forces of Hamas in Gaza who want neither reconciliation nor to give up their empire, their money or their influence,” he told Voice of Palestine radio.

“There is a real threat to reconciliation if the exiled leadership of Hamas does not begin to put pressure on those inside to change the situation in Gaza and insist on the culture of national unity and reconciliation,” he said.