World Bulletin / News Desk
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Tuesday called for healing the Palestinian rift and achieving reconciliation.
Speaking at a meeting with a Fatah-led delegation in Gaza City, Haniyeh accused the United States and Israel of seeking to undermine the Palestinian cause.
"It has become imperative now to end divisions to abort U.S. and Israeli schemes," he said, going on to call for implementing signed agreements between rival Hamas and Fatah regarding the inter-Palestinian reconciliation.
"We will not allow the Israeli army to be happy with our divisions," Haniyeh said. "We must have one leadership, one government and on political decision."
Fatah member Azzam al-Ahmad, for his part, said that "It is time to end divisions".
"Fatah supports Palestinian unity whether peace talks with Israel succeeded or failed," he added.
The delegation arrived in the Gaza Strip from Ramallah earlier Tuesday to discuss possible means of achieving reconciliation with Hamas officials.
Tension has been high between Hamas – which governs the Gaza Strip – and Fatah – which holds the Palestinian Authority – since 2007, when Hamas routed troops loyal Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and seized control of the entire strip.
Continued conflict between Hamas and Fatah obliged the former to set up its own government in Gaza, while Fatah did the same in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
In 2011, the two factions hammered out a reconciliation deal under Egyptian sponsorship. The following year, the two sides agreed to create a unity government headed up by Abbas to pave the way for parliamentary polls.
The terms of the agreement, however, were never implemented.
Few Palestinians expect a breakthrough in the deadlock that has paralysed Palestinian politics, and many have low expectations of any resolution to the seemingly endless duel.
"NO ROOM FOR FAILURE"
The reconciliation mission coincided with a meeting between Abbas's Fatah-led group and Israeli peace negotiators in Jerusalem to try to extend talks beyond an April 29 deadline.
"We want to end the division whether there is negotiation (with Israel) or there isn't. We want to build Gaza and the West Bank and end the (Israeli) occupation," Al-Ahmed told official Palestinian news agency WAFA.
"We are one country, one people and no power on earth could dismantle this holy bond ... We must end the ugly chapter of division and implement everything we have signed," Al-Ahmed said on arrival in Gaza.
But if Palestinian unity talks end with a deal, paving the way for elections and a national strategy towards Israel, not only might Abbas gain negotiating power, but Hamas, hemmed in by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, might become less isolated.
"We must conclude national reconciliation and end the division so we can have one government, one political national agenda and one system ... There is no room for failure at this dialogue," Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh said.
Hamas and Fatah also trade blame over the dozens of prisoners held by each side since Hamas took control of Gaza and Fatah remained the predominant party in the Israeli-occupied West Bank after Hamas won 2006 parliamentary polls.
"Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank believe more in what they see, not in what they hear," Gaza political analyst Hani Habib told Reuters. "Past experiences have taught them that, every time, something happens at the last moment and makes their hope evaporate."
Last Mod: 23 Nisan 2014, 11:27