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Sunday, February 12, 2012

More indications of a split within Hamas

From YNet:
Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar has publicly expressed his opposition to a reconciliation agreement signed this week by the Islamist group's politburo chief, Khaled Mashaal, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Zahar told a Gaza-based news agency that the agreement, under which Abbas would head an interim unity government of politically independent technocrats whose main task would be to prepare for presidential and parliament elections, was finalized without consulting other Hamas leaders.

"Handing the reins of government to Abbas is completely unacceptable," Zahar said. "It's a strategically erroneous plan."

The Hamas leader added that Hamas leaders in Gaza and abroad will convene in the coming days to discuss the terror group's official position on the agreement.
In the interview, Zahar said that the Doha declaration of unity was effectively Meshal recognizing Israel and that it causes a "major threat" to the future of Hamas.

He denied that there was a rift, and said that political decisions in Hamas must not be done unilaterally but must instead go through its Shura council.

Meanwhile, Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh is in Iran, and Al Arabiya sees that as another indication of a split:
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah’s trip to the Iranian capital of Tehran highlighted the disagreement between the movement’s leaders at home and abroad, particularly his relationship with Damascus-based politburo chief Khaled Mashaal.

Haniyah’s acceptance of an invitation by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to participate in the celebration of the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, demonstrates the disagreements between Hamas leaders inside and outside the Gaza Strip, said political analyst Mekhimar Abu Saada.

“This division started becoming clear after the reconciliation agreement signed in Cairo between Fatah and Hamas,” he said.

At the time, he explained, Mashaal surprised Hamas by granting Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas a one-year grace period to conduct negotiations with Israel.

However, Abu Saada added, divisions inside Hamas were made clear when the resistance movement was required to take a stance as far as the Syrian crisis is concerned and the general inclination was to reject Iran’s demand that Hamas support Bashar al-Assad’s regime like Lebanon’s Hezbollah did.

“Mashaal was in the camp that favored distancing itself from Iran and Syria and getting closer to the Sunni axis represented by Turkey, Qatar, and the Palestinian president.”

That is why, he pointed out, this visit seems to have been an explicit rejection of Mashaal’s stance and that of the majority of Hamas leaders.

“This move by Haniyah and any similar moves likely to take place by Hamas leaders at home can be attributed to financial factors.”

Abu Saada explained that Hamas in Gaza is more in need of financial aid from external powers and that is why it is in its best interest not to contradict Iran.

“This, in addition to Haniyah’s objection to the rapprochement between Mashaal and Abbas, is expected to encourage the prime minister to maintain strong relations with Iran even though it supports the Syrian regime unlike Hamas’s initial stance.”

According to sources, Hamas leaders abroad as well as several Gulf nations advised Haniyah not to accept the Iranian invitation.
For his part, Haniyeh told a crowd in Iran that Hamas will never recognize Israel and will actively seek its destruction:
Hamas “will never recognize Israel,” its Gaza prime minister said Saturday in a speech in Iran that is likely to complicate Palestinian efforts to form a unity government in the teeth of opposition from the Jewish state.

“They want us to recognize the Israeli occupation and cease resistance but, as the representative of the Palestinian people and in the name of all the world’s freedom seekers, I am announcing from Azadi Square in Tehran that we will never recognize Israel,” Ismail Haniyeh said.

The resistance will continue until all Palestinian land, including al-Quds (Jerusalem), has been liberated and all the refugees have returned,” he said.
Haniyeh’s reiteration of Hamas’s long-held stance was made on the occasion of Iran’s commemoration of its 1979 Islamic revolution. The Gaza leader spoke to an estimated crowd of 30,000 from a stage alongside Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.