A disagreement among Hamas’ leadership over unity with the Fatah faction may end the move even before it took off.
Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior Hamas figure in the Gaza Strip, announced Tuesday that a date for the “Unity Festival,” planned by Jibril Rajoub of the Fatah and Saleh Aruri of Hamas, has yet to be set. However, various sources deny rumors that the “Unity Festival” will be postponed or canceled.
Sources in Ramallah and the Gaza Strip say that the crisis is the result of an internal dispute within Hamas and because senior members of the organization oppose this move.
Various sources indicate that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and Yihya Sinwar, who heads Hamas in Gaza, oppose the renewed unity with Fatah. However, the Hamas leadership in Judea and Samaria and the leadership of Hamas’ prisoners support the move.
In recent days, Israel has arrested senior Hamas figures in Judea and Samaria, who claim that they were warned not to support the unity move. Naif Rajoub, Jabril’s brother, is also among the detainees.
Haniyeh’s interview with the Qatari paper in which he said Hamas rejected a proposal to accept $15 billion in exchange for its disarmament is part of the effort to thwart the unity move and for this reason, he blamed the Palestinian Authority (PA) for opposing Hamas’ demands for a seaport and airport and dubbed its stance a “shameful thing.”
Among the Hamas leadership abroad, the controversy is expanding, and while the Qatari and Turkish camps support unity, pressure from the Iranian camp is being exerted against it.
In Ramallah, the controversy is expanding over Jibril Rajoub’s move, also because he is gaining an advantage over his political opponents and those claiming to succeed PA head Mahmoud Abbas.
A senior PA security source told TPS that Colonel Majed Faraj, the head of PA intelligence and Rajoub’s rival, is leading the opposition and that Abbas is also opposed to the move led by Rajoub but is remaining silent for the time being.
A senior Fatah member said that there has recently been a phenomenon of courtship after Hamas by Fatah senior officials, and according to him, “while we are courting them, Hamas members do not even bother to return our calls.”
The source added that “we thought that the reconciliation process would be based on a plan to build a Palestinian state, but today it turns out that this is a move in which Hamas is setting the tone and it is all based on the renewal of resistance and violence.”
The senior official said that the Egyptians have also expressed resentment at the unity move because the Turks and Qataris are considered the “best men” of this development.
According to him, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry conveyed this message to Abbas last week, and also because the latter had recently approached Turkey several times regarding support for PA positions and the issue of unity with Hamas. Tensions are rising between Turkey and Egypt due to its involvement in Libya.
Meanwhile, PA officials expressed concern that the unity move will enable Hamas to return through the back door and operate in the Judea and Samaria areas and that they will not be content with the “popular struggle” and will take advantage of the opportunity to resume attacks against Israel and embarrass the Palestinian Authority.
The controversy in Hamas is also exacerbated by the expected elections to its politburo at the end of the year, and so far, at least two camps have been formed, that of Ismail Haniyeh, and that of his predecessor Khaled Mashaal.