Egypt invites Palestinian blocs in bid to resume reconciliation, halt Gaza riots
AP Photo/Adel Hana, File
Egypt has reportedly invited Fatah and Hamas to its capital as part of a renewed bid to resume the stalled reconciliation talks between the two rival Palestinian factions, Palestinian media reported on Tuesday.
The Hamas delegation -- headed by Saleh Arouri and Musa Abu Marzouk -- is set to arrive in Cairo today, according to the Times of Israel whilst Fatah factions are said to be already there. Palestinian media reported that last week, Hamas’s failure to attend the talks angered the Egyptian diplomats.
Signed in October last year the reconciliation deal between West Bank-based Fatah and Gaza-based Islamist Hamas was aimed at ending a decade-long split between rival Palestinian factions and an attempt to unify policy across the two territories, currently operating as two parallel governments.
As per the deal, Hamas was supposed to handover power in the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority (PA) by December but, apart from the relinquishing of border control, the due date was missed and the Islamic militant group remains firmly in control of the coastal enclave.
Perhaps the biggest blow to rapprochement efforts came last month with the attempted assassination of PA Prime Minister of Rami Hamdallah. President Mahmoud Abbas claimed Hamas was behind the attack, whilst Hamas denied all accusations and warned that the president’s allegations “burns bridges and strengthens division.”
The reported meeting on Tuesday would be the first since the Hamdallah incident.
A senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar, quoted by the Times of Israel, said: “Fatah does not want any agreement and is trying to hold Hamas responsible for the failure of the reconciliation agreement.” He added, “Fatah and Abbas can’t implement the agreement, and this is a waste of time and effort. I believe we will not get anything [from Abbas].”
It was hoped that reconciliation could alleviate humanitarian suffering in Gaza, home to some two million people.
However, missed deadlines and internal political disputes have hampered the process leaving many wondering if the landmark accord could be buried together. Hamas and Fatah have traded blame for what could turn out to be a gradual abandonment of the accord.
Recent reports circulated regarding an offer made by a European committee proposing to manage the humanitarian and social affairs in Gaza on the condition that Abbas levied additional sanctions on the Hamas-run Strip. Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Akhbar newspaper confirmed the proposal.
However, Zahar dismissed the pitch as “test balloons” whilst another Hamas official, Hammad Al Raqab called it “fabrications.” A spokesperson for the European Union also denied the reports and said the body would only recognize the PA as leaders of Gaza.
- Halt Gaza border protests -
During the talks, according to the unconfirmed report, Egypt also intends to exert pressure on Hamas to halt the recent string of “March of Return” Gaza border protests.
The Egyptians fear that the demonstrations, which has lead to the death of 32 Palestinians, could lead to another military standoff between Israel and Hamas, a PA official said in Ramallah on Sunday.
Zahar, according to the Times of Israel, said Hamas was willing to “study any advice given to it and would accept any advice that serves Palestinian interests.”
He said, however, that “it was in the interest of the Palestinians to continue the March of Return until we achieve its goals. We make our decisions based on the interests of the Palestinians.” He added that the demonstrations had “exposed to the world Israeli crimes.”
Israel has received global scrutiny and international mounting criticism for its use of live fire on seemingly peaceful protesters. However, the Jewish State has defended itself claiming it only opens fire when necessary against those taking an active part in violence.
For the past few weeks since March 30 thousands of Palestinians have staged mass protests along the border fence with Israel, demanding hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who fled or were expelled during the war surrounding Israel's creation in 1948 be allowed to return.
The protests are set to climax on May 15, when Israel will mark 70 years of independence -- a day Palestinians mark as the “nakba” (“catastrophe” in Arabic) -- and the United States will cut the ribbon on its controversial new embassy in Jerusalem.
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Deception against deception.