Hamas pours scorn on Fatah call for unity

Filed on February 21, 2011
Hamas pours scorn on Fatah call for unity

Gaza’s Hamas rulers on Monday shrugged off calls for reconciliation with Fatah, saying its secular rival must prove its seriousness by freeing prisoners.

“These declarations lack seriousness and credibility, they make no sense in light of the continued arrests and torture (of Hamas members) in Fatah prisons in the West Bank,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, in response to an appeal by Fatah for the two factions to start talking.

“The only real way towards reconciliation is to stop the arrests, free the detainees and allow the movement’s charities to start helping the Palestinian people again,” he told AFP.

Hamas and Fatah are bitter opponents which have carried out periodic arrests of each other’s members, often holding detainees without charge or trial and routinely trading allegations of prisoner abuse.

“The formation of a national unity government can only be achieved in the context of an all-encompassing national solution and not a partial one,” he said, referring to calls for the establishment of a coalition which would rule until parliamentary elections can be held at some point before September.

His comments were made a day after a senior Fatah member called for the two movements to reconcile their differences.

“In the national interest, the Fatah movement underlines the need to respond to the demands of the Palestinian people to put an end to the division with a view to ending the occupation,” said Azzam al-Ahmad.

“We are ready to meet the Hamas leadership so that the Egyptian document can be signed,” he added, referring to a Cairo-brokered deal which was endorsed by Fatah but rejected by the Islamists.

The rivalry between Hamas and Fatah dates back to the early 1990s. It intensified dramatically after the Islamist movement won elections in 2006 and, a year later, seized control of Gaza in deadly street fighting with Fatah.

Since then, the Palestinian territories have been effectively split in two, with the rule of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas confined to the West Bank only.

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