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Fatah denies reports that Abbas ‘thwarted’ Egyptian initiative to end dispute with Hamas

Aug. 6, 2017 10:24 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 7, 2017 2:21 P.M.)
Senior Hamas member Moussa Abu Marzouq, left, and Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad. (File)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority (PA), denied on Sunday reports by London-based al-Hayat newspaper alleging that PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi had discussed a plan to reconcile the West Bank-based PA with Hamas, the de facto ruling party in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Al-Hayat had quoted unidentified Palestinian sources as saying that Abbas had "thwarted" a new initiative by the Egyptian head of state to broker a reconciliation agreement ending the decade-long rivalry between Hamas and the PA.

"Both Hamas and President Abbas agreed to al-Sisi's initiative, before Abbas proposed another initiative of his own, which Hamas rejected," the anonymous sources told the newspaper.

Azzam al-Ahmad, who serves as the Fatah commissioner for nationalistic relations, told official PA news agency Wafa that al-Sisi had only brought up the issue of intra-Palestinian reconciliation in a general manner, “as usual,” during a meeting with Abbas last month.

Al-Ahmad added that while Abbas and al-Sisi had discussed in detail efforts to end the political conflict between Hamas and Fatah, they had not brought up any specific new initiatives by Egypt to help broker a new reconciliation agreement.

Al-Ahmad said the al-Hayat report included "details fitted together from the imagination of unknown sources who gave the information to (the newspaper’s) reporter in Gaza."

Al-Ahmad added that after the Cairo meeting between Abbas and al-Sisi, there were contacts and meetings between Hamas and Fatah officials in which he "personally was involved," before adding that nothing newsworthy emerged from those meetings.

However, a senior Hamas official said earlier on Sunday that the al-Hayat report was true, and that Hamas had responded positively when it was notified of a new Egyptian initiative.

Numerous attempts have been made in the past to reconcile Hamas and Fatah since they came into violent conflict in 2007, shortly after Hamas’ 2006 victory in general elections held in the Gaza Strip.

However, Palestinian leadership has repeatedly failed to follow through on promises of reconciliations, as both movements have frequently blamed each other for numerous political failures.

The PA itself has been the focus of fierce condemnation in recent months after being accused of deliberately sending the impoverished Gaza Strip further into a humanitarian catastrophe in order to wrestle control of the territory from Hamas.

The Fatah-led PA has been accused of deliberately sending the impoverished Gaza Strip further into a humanitarian catastrophe in order to wrestle control of the territory from Hamas, by slashing funding for Israeli fuel, medicine, and salaries for civil servants and former prisoners.

Hamas authorities have also been accused of withholding funds collected in Gaza from the PA, as well as targeting Fatah officials in Gaza through detentions and restricting their freedom of movement.

On Thursday, the Hamas movement announced its readiness to do away with its administrative committee in Gaza, should the PA retract all punitive measures imposed on the besieged coastal enclave in recent months.

However, Abbas said in a speech on Saturday that the PA would continue to reduce financial support to the Gaza Strip as long as the Hamas movement did not stick to the PA-mandated terms of reconciliation.
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