Palestinian Reconciliation Unravels While Ink Still Wet on Agreements

Fatah Hamas
A poster depicting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Gaza City earlier this month. (Reuters/Suhaib Salem)

Just a few days after Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation agreement in Cairo, the two Palestinian factions are ready to go at each other’s throats again.

The immediate issue is impatience on the Hamas side over foot-dragging by Fatah, the main group in the Palestinian Authority, to lift financial sanctions at the earliest opportunity since the signing ceremony.

“The failure of [Palestinian] Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to respond affirmatively to the popular and national demands to cancel his arbitrary measures against our people in Gaza is unjustifiable and a clear denial of the demands of reconciliation,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum charged on Monday.

“He must bear responsibility for exacerbating the people’s suffering and crises.” Hamas wanted Abbas to take action at a Fatah Central Committee meeting on Sunday, its first since the agreement was signed, but it did not even seem to be on the agenda.

Fatah Spokesman Osama Qawasmeh on Monday finessed the matter. In a phone interview with The Times of Israel, he would not commit himself as to when payroll money would start flowing to Gaza again.

When pressed for a timetable, he replied: “The government will be going to Gaza this week to evaluate the situation. Thereafter, it will send a report to the President [Abbas], who will make the appropriate decision.”

Salaries was not the only issue casting a pall over internal Palestinian peacemaking. There is also a matter of the disposition of Gaza land bestowed by Hamas on some of its employees while the PA was away? Security arrangements at the Raffah border crossing with Egypt remains unresolved, as does the huge question of what to do about the Hamas refusal to disarm its armed force of 25,000.