One year on from the reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah, Ma’an asked party leaders why national unity still eludes Palestinian politics.
On May 4, 2011, President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and Hamas chief Khalid Maashal pledged in Cairo to form a government to prepare for elections within one year, but the parties continue to lead separate governments in the West Bank and Gaza.
Speaking from Cairo, Hamas leader Ahmad Youssef said the accord faced obstacles “beyond the two parties’ will.”
Both parties tried to impose their position on the other, Youssef said, but Israel, the international community and “discouraging” statements from Fatah were also to blame for the ongoing division.
Egypt, which sponsored the reconciliation deal, continues to push for its implementation, and Abbas and Mashaal will meet again in Cairo after Hamas’ internal elections, he said.
Since the deal, Fatah has operated freely in the Gaza Strip and relations have improved, the Hamas official said.
Faisal Abu Shahla, a Fatah parliament member in Gaza, told Ma’an that despite many meetings since the reconciliation deal, there has been no real progress on the ground.
The Hamas government continues to arrest Fatah members in Gaza, he said.
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader Kayed al-Ghoul agreed that there had been no real progress toward unity.
“It seems there are private interests that are still controlling the reconciliation path,” al-Ghoul told Ma’an.
Popular Struggle Front leader Mahmud Zak, who is on hunger strike in a protest tent in Gaza City in solidarity with prisoners, said national division frustrated all Palestinians.
Meanwhile, politburo member of the leftist Palestine People’s Party Walid al-Awad said no aspect of the reconciliation deal had been implemented.
Unity demands action rather than more agreements, al-Awad added. He called on Hamas to allow the elections committee to resume work updating the voter registrar in Gaza.
Abdul Aziz Qudaih, a spokesman for the social reconciliation committee, said the elections committee needed Hamas’ approval to prepare for a vote in Gaza.
“Afterward, the ballot box decides who has responsibility,” Qudeih said.
Forming a unity government is crucial in providing an environment for reconciliation, he added.
Political analyst Akram Attallah said reconciliation had stalled because some Fatah and Hamas members did not want national unity.
Palestinian leaders do not recognize the importance of reconciliation and of reforming the political system, and Egypt and Qatar have lessened pressure on the parties, Attallah said.