World Bulletin/News Desk
Divisions between the rival Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas are casting a shadow on arrangements for the annual Islamic Hajj pilgrimage.
"Like all other issues, Hajj has been hijacked by politics and Palestinian divisions," political analyst Telal Okal told the Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.
He opined that the two rival Palestinian groups are now working against each other.
"This has created a tense climate between the two governments in the West Bank and Gaza and affected the interests of the Palestinians," he said.
The two rival groups have traded accusations about withholding passports of Gazans going on Hajj in Saudi Arabia.
Hasan al-Sayefi, undersecretary of the Gaza-based Religious Endowment (Awqaf) Ministry, has accused the Ramallah government of "manipulating" a Saudi Hajj grant for families of Palestinian pilgrims via putting the names of non-Gazans to perform the spiritual journey.
But the Ramallah-based Awqaf Minister Mahmoud al-Habbash hit back by accusing Hamas of pursuing "illegal and non-religious" practices to spoil the Hajj season.
He argued that Palestinians who were prevented from going to Hajj were not on the list of Gazan pilgrims.
Relations between Hamas and Fatah have been tense since the Islamist movement seized control of the Gaza Strip following a deadly infighting with Fatah in 2007.
Political analyst Hany Habib opines that the ongoing tension fades away hopes for reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.
"Polarization between Hamas and Fatah has affected arrangements for Hajj, which shows that there is no hope of ending this rift," he told the AA.
He argued that the recent tension signals that "numerous parties benefit from the current division."
"The rift has deepened because of the ongoing changes in the Arab region, which have made some factions see reconciliation as harming their interests," he said.
"The current division only harms the Palestinian citizens," he said.
Okal called for new mechanisms with the aim of achieving reconciliation and ending the schism between the two rival groups.
"Their divisions have deepened, which shows that the decision-making process is not controlled by Palestinian factions, rather, each side has his own calculations and relations, which he does not want to lose in return for reconciliation," he said.Last Mod: 09 Ekim 2013, 10:04