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Hamas, Fatah reconciliation becomes impossible mission
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by Saud Abu Ramadan

Frustration and despair have mounted among the Palestinians after Egypt announced that it decided to postpone the inter-dialogue of reconciliation, which was due to take place in Cairo on Monday, to end the current political split between Gaza and the West Bank.

Egypt decided to postpone the dialogue right after it was informed by Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements that both are not yet ready for the dialogue until Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stops the arresting campaign against the two movements' activists in the West Bank.

Palestinian analysts believe that the current political disputes between the two big rival movements, Fatah and Hamas, would never lead to a real reconciliation until one of the two sides makes concessions to the other on the expense of the Palestinian national interest.

Mahmoud Kamal, a Palestinian academic specialized in political science in Gaza, said that "Each side doesn't trust the other, each side fears from the other and each side doesn't want to listen to the other."

"I believe that if both movements continue their disputes and their political argument on every tiny detail of every issue related to the Palestinian affairs, there will be no possibility for the Palestinians to be united again," said Kamal.

Hamas movement, which took control of the Gaza Strip in mid June last year, and ruled it ever since, has its own demands and its own strategy towards achieving the national reconciliation, mainly with Fatah movement.

"Hamas movement wants Fatah and President Mahmoud Abbas to be fully convinced that they have to respect the democratic choice ofthe Palestinian people. Hamas won in the legislative elections and it has the legal right to lead the Palestinians," said Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas movement's spokesman in Gaza.

He accused Fatah movement for being influenced by an American and Israeli agenda "that pressures them not to hold any reconciliation or any national unity with Hamas."

Meanwhile, Fatah movement's leaders are also accusing Hamas movement for being influenced by a foreign agenda, referring to Iran, Qatar and Syria, that is not interested in achieving a real Palestinian reconciliation.

Nabil Shaath, a senior Fatah movement's leaders, said earlier that Hamas' demand to postpone the dialogue "was illusive and unreal," adding that "there are prisoners in both sides' jails in Gaza and the West Bank."

"The only solution to start the dialogue in Cairo is to put aside all differences and keep in mind only the highest interests of the Palestinians, then we sit together on one table and through dialogue we can resolve all our disputes," said Shaath.

Each side, either Fatah or Hamas, said it really wants to go to the dialogue with open minds and hearts in order to end the current split among the Palestinians. However, each side has its own reservations on the dialogue.

"If they (Fatah and Hamas) continue their disputes and arguments, I believe that the Palestinian cause would be more and more complicated and the chances for resolving it would be very weak," said Ibrahim Hamad, a Palestinian analyst.

He added that their endless disputes and their mutual cold war through the mass media "has negative impact on the ordinary poor people, who get sick of watching such disputes destroying their aspirations towards freedom and independence."

"I believe that such disputes between the two movements would make the reconciliation between them a mission impossible, and the only side which gets hurt is the poor ordinary people," said Hamad.

Although Egypt has decided to postpone holding the dialogue until a further notice, but the Egyptian officials had announced that they would continue their intensive contacts to bring the parties back again to the table of dialogue.

Shaath has expected earlier that Egypt would announce that the dialogue would be resumed within the coming two weeks. But still, it is not clear whether Fatah and Hamas movement would agree to put their disputes aside and go to the dialogue to discuss all issues face to face.

A senior Egyptian source has announced that Egypt would soon send a senior security official to Syria to hold talks with Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders in a bid to convince them to come to the dialogue.

The source said Egypt is also exerting pressure on Abbas "to free Hamas movement's prisoners in the West Bank."

The Palestinian analysts agree on one point that if the dialogue fails this time "the Palestinian political split between Gaza and West Bank would continue and the suffering of the people would reach climax."

(Xinhua News Agency November 11, 2008)

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