Yahya al-Sinwar, the leader of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza, and the newly elected prime minister of the Hamas government, on Tuesday announced that Hamas would not allow the split with Fatah to continue on a variety of issues, and would end the talks on reconciliation unilaterally if necessary, Ma’an reported.
“We as a people are still in a period of national liberation; we cannot abandon our weapons; our weapons certainly must be included under the umbrella of the Palestinian Liberation Organization,” he said, suggesting that Hamas with its weapons would become part of the PLO.
Al-Sinwar spoke in a meeting with representatives of Gaza’s trade unions intended to create a wave of popular pressure in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority and abroad to continue the reconciliation talks. In fact, he used the meeting to launch a popular national dialogue that will include groups of every stripe in preparation for the Cairo meetings on reconciliation. “We will bear the concerns and hopes of the people at the negotiations table in Cairo,” he vowed.
Nevertheless, al-Sinwar dismissed the possibility that Hamas would turn over its arms to the government in Ramallah under any circumstances. “The weapons of the [Hamas military wing] Qassam Brigades are the property of the Palestinian people and we see you and develop our weapons for use in the liberation project and not for the internal conflict,” he promised.
“We will burn all the bridges that the process of reconciliation has crossed,” al-Sinwar threatened, insisting that national reconciliation must take place without the surrendering of Hamas weapons. At the same breath, he called on the members of the Central Committee of Fatah and the Executive Committee of the PLO to hold their next meeting in the Gaza Strip, where they can “live in the atmosphere of pride.”
Al-Sinwar warned that national reconciliation was in danger, that Israel was unhappy with its completion and that the Trump Administration wanted reconciliation on its own terms.
“You have to be prepared to bear the national burden in order to confront anyone who tries to sabotage national reconciliation efforts,” al-Sinwar offered his version of “blood, sweat and tears,” adding, “And I say to you that there are those who are affected by the prospect of national reconciliation and are therefore a danger to its future.”