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Thursday, February 23, 2012

More Hamas/Fatah "unity" woes

From AFP:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his rival Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal on Thursday postponed talks on forming a unified government, a Fatah official said, in a further delay to ending an almost five-year rift.

The official with the Abbas-led party said the talks were postponed “because Hamas continues to prevent the election committee from registering voters in Gaza,” the Islamist-ruled Palestinian territory.

He added that Hamas, which has been split internally on agreeing the unity government with the secular Fatah, has “not yet informed Abbas of its formal approval to end internal disputes on forming the government.”
Reuters reports it this way:
Hamas has set new terms for implementing a reconciliation deal with President Mahmoud Abbas's rival Fatah group, an official said on Thursday.

Abbas and Khalid Mashaal, Hamas's political chief in exile, agreed in Qatar earlier this month to form a unity government led by the Western-backed president.

But in a rift with the Islamist group's leadership outside the Gaza Strip, officials in the Hamas-ruled enclave swiftly criticized the accord, particularly its call for Abbas to serve as prime minister as well as president.

At an internal meeting chaired by Mashaal in Cairo on Wednesday, Hamas officials united behind new demands, said a Palestinian official involved in the talks. The terms seemed certain to be rejected by Abbas.

"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 oversees the Hamas-run security services, and Palestinian political analyst Samir Awad said the new terms proved the group "was not prepared to abandon control of Gaza", territory it seized from Fatah in fighting in 2007.

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.
Meanwhile, Hamas is again accusing Fatah of arresting its members in the West Bank - the one basic issue that was supposed to be resolved since May.

They are also squabbling over the Gaza power plant issue, as Hamas has bypassed the PA in order to try to secure a deal with Egypt to get a supply of cheap diesel, with Haniyeh effectively acting as if he is the head of government - after supposedly agreeing to Abbas being prime minister.

They agree on one thing, though: stopping any chance of a "Palestinian spring" against their respective leaders. They'll plan meeting after meeting and photo-ops galore for the next decade to try to fool their people that they actually care about them rather than their own hold on power, which is what prompted this whole "unity" farce to begin with.