Palestinian Reconciliation at Impasse After Hamas, Abbas Exchange Blame

Hamas is willing to hand over control of Gaza to Palestinian Authority in return for unity government, reports Lebanese TV station

File Photo: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Hamas leaders Khaled Meshal and Ismail Haniyeh, Doha, October 28, 2016.
Handout / Palestinian Presidency

Senior officials in the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah movement attacked Hamas leaders on Tuesday, accusing the organization of trying to evade any progress in negotiations for reconciliation between the factions.

At the same time, Hamas claims that the PA and its leader, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, are not really interested in reconciliation, but are only attempting to dictate Hamas' terms of surrender.

Russia has invited Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh for a visit to Moscow, at a time when a Fatah delegation is also headed to the Russian capital for talks with senior officials in the Foreign Ministry. According to Haniyeh's office, Russia's ambassador to the Palestinian Authority visited Gaza Wednesday and met Haniyeh. At the meeting, the ambassador invited the Hamas leader to Russia and the two discussed internal Palestinian politics.

Senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad, who holds the reconciliation file on behalf of the PA, said the PA does not trust Hamas. Al-Ahmad, who returned from Cairo after another round of talks with senior Egyptian intelligence officials, said a special committee will convene next week to discuss steps to limit Hamas' rule in the Gaza Strip – but without harming the Palestinians living there.

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Al-Ahmad’s statements came after senior Hamas leaders criticized the PA government. Hamas is demanding the resignation of the PA government in Ramallah, headed by Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, as a precondition for progress in the negotiations.

Senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk said on Tuesday that the existing PA government could not put an end to the split because, according to him, it was part of the problem and not part of the solution. "The solution for fixing the situation is the establishment of a national unity government based on representation of all factions, as was agreed to in Beirut at the beginning of last year," said Abu Marzouk, adding, "that government will implement the reconciliation agreement from 2011."

Hamas has expressed willingness to hand over control of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority in return for the resignation of the PA government and the establishment of a unity government, reported Lebanese TV station Al Mayadeen. Hamas, according to the report, has set additional conditions for handing over control: Removing all sanctions imposed by the PA on the Gaza Strip and a commitment by the PA to pay the salaries of government employees in Gaza.

At the same time, the PA is demands full responsibility over Gaza without any conditions, which leaves the differences between the two sides as irreconcilable at this stage.