Senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahhar said Saturday that while the movement agreed to a deal with Fatah to form a transitional government, Hamas was concerned it may actually undermine the reconciliation accord between the parties.
“We specifically agreed on a non-partisan cabinet of technocrats to prepare for elections … implementing the deal may lead to undermining the (initial agreement),” Zahhar told reporters.
Party chiefs announced a unity government headed by Fatah leader President Mahmoud Abbas after meeting in the Qatari capital last month. The proposed cabinet was the latest push to implement a May 2011 reconciliation deal which sought to end the split into separate governments presided over by the rival factions.
Abbas’ proposed leadership role caused disquiet amongst the Gaza-based Hamas leadership, and both parties said the other had requested a delay in putting together the cabinet, creating another impasse.
Zahhar said on Saturday that Hamas wants to implement reconciliation, but raised discussions in how to protect the agreement at the latest meetings, indicating its opposition to Abbas’ role in the new government is ongoing.
The Hamas leader speculated on the intended transitional nature of the jointly-agreed government, which will oversee the first national elections since 2006.
“If Israel refuses election committees and blocks voting, will Abbas’ government be permanent?” Zahhar said.
Hamas won the last parliamentary vote, but was shunned by the international community, and infighting with Fatah exploded into near civil war in 2007. Hamas took power in Gaza, and a Fatah-controlled administration operates out of the West Bank, paralyzing legislative and electoral processes for five years.