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Disputes Between Hamas, Fatah Unlikely to End
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A recent surge of disputes between the ruling Hamas and previously dominant Fatah movement were unlikely to end as either of the two rivals is ready to alter politically, a Palestinian analyst said.

Hamas, which is in power less than a month, is in big trouble because it does not know exactly whether to insist on its current political stance or yield to Israeli and international pressure.

"In both cases I believe Hamas is a loser, because if it yields to the pressure and recognizes Israel, it would lose its wide popular support and become similar to Fatah," said Abdallah el- Agha, a Palestinian academic and analyst from Gaza.

"If Hamas-led cabinet insists to keep its fanatic and hardline ideologies and political stances, I do not believe that it would keep for too long, and it would either collapse alone or be changed by President Mahmoud Abbas," said Agha.

The roots of the two Palestinian rivals' disputes lie in political and ideological differences, Palestinian observers believed.

They see no changes in beliefs of both parties and don't rule out an endless conflict between the two, unless one of them changes its ideology or political stances.

Fatah had been the Palestinian ruling party since the Oslo peace accords, which was signed between the Palestinian side and Israel in 1993.

It only became the opposition after it lost power in Jan. 25 legislative elections, in which Hamas claimed an outright majority.

When in power, Fatah recognized Israel, condemned violence, accepted signed agreements with Israel, and most importantly, enjoyed international community's financial supports.

Hamas, which is considered "a terrorist organization" by the European Union, the United States and Israel, had dramatically moved from a violent opposition party to a ruling party after it won the January election and thus formed a new Palestinian government.

However, due to its consistent refusal to recognizing Israel as a state, renouncing violence and accepting previous agreements, the new government is now facing a severe financial crisis caused by a major aid cut-off and diplomatic isolation internationally.

"I do not believe it would be possible for Hamas to be in both a ruling movement and at the same time in the opposition," Mahmed Mqdad, a spokesman for Fatah, told Xinhua, referring to Hamas's condition now.

He added that when Fatah was the ruling party of the PNA, it understood immediately the rules of the game. It recognized Israel and negotiated with it, and at the same time it managed to get the world's support without facing difficulties.

Currently, with radical Hamas leading the cabinet and Mahmoud Abbas, a Fatah, being the president, disputes on government decisions and policies were inevitably reflected over the weekend.

Hamas Interior Minister Saeed Seyam announced to form a new security force last Thursday, a government decision that was termed as "illegal and against constitutional rules" by Abbas who immediately issued a decree and annulled it.

However, Seyam and his spokesman Khaled Abu Hilal insisted that the decision had already been taken and the interior ministry was not intending to change it.

This dispute between the cabinet and the presidency had enlarged the divergence between Fatah and Hamas, which was worsened by a statement made by Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Mashaal, accusing Abbas and his Fatah movement in the previous cabinet of corruption.

He went further and accused Abbas of trying to topple the Hamas- led cabinet.

Mashaal's statements then led to a wave of protests and violent clashes between supporters of Fatah and Hamas on Saturday and Sunday.

Supporters of the two parties in Gaza clashed and attacked each other, leaving 21 of them injured.

Analysts believe that the recent disputes and clashes between the two were not the first and won't be the last.

As long as each side is keeping its beliefs, ideologies and political stances, violence between them would be ready to ignite at any time.

(Xinhua News Agency April 25, 2006)


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