Before a meeting of Palestinian groups in Cairo, the leaders of Hamas and Fatah are attempting to reconcile once more in an effort to forge a consensus unity administration.
Keeping solid relations with both Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey arranged a meeting between the two rival leaders on Wednesday in advance of a vital conference in Cairo over the weekend.
According to the Turkish leader’s office, Mr. Erdogan stated at the meeting on Wednesday that the Palestinians’ division favored those “who wanted to undermine peace” and that it was held behind closed doors in Ankara.
The conference in Ankara was centered on the potential formation of a national consensus government with the participation of all Palestinian groups, a source close to Hamas informed The National.
The Palestine Liberation Organization is the only recognized representative of the Palestinian people, but Fatah leaders have insisted that both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which are based in the Gaza Strip under Hamas rule, publicly recognize the PLO as such. This is a persistent point of contention between the factions.
Tayseer Nasrallah, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, expressed concern that building a unity administration may be difficult, citing Hamas’s attitude toward the PLO and “handing over power to the Palestinian Authority in Gaza” as examples.
Mr. Abbas called for the holding of presidential elections in the West Bank and Gaza in 2021; opposition organizations like Hamas and former members of Fatah who are now against the President applauded the initiative.
The elections were then called off by Mr. Abbas, who cited Israel’s ban on voting in East Jerusalem.
Mr. Nasrallah stated to The National that Hamas’ opposition to working with the Palestinian Authority for “holding elections in Gaza” is another area of contention with regard to a future unity administration.
The meeting of the chiefs of the factions will take place in Cairo on Sunday, according to the Palestinian presidency, which stated earlier this week that Mr. Abbas had “invited all Palestinian factions, including Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”
According to a statement from the Palestinian presidency, “the meeting will discuss how to confront aggression against the Palestinian people, especially from the extremist Israeli government, and to strengthen Palestinian unity.”
Last year, Mr. Abbas and Mr. Haniyeh had their first public encounter in more than five years when they met in Algeria. Both groups agreed to organize elections for the presidency and the Palestinian Legislative Council, which serves as the country’s parliament for Palestinians in the occupied areas, within a year of signing the “Algiers Declaration” in October. Over the past ten years, representatives from Hamas and Fatah have held numerous “last chance” peace discussions in Cairo.
Given that both Fatah and Hamas struggle to manage the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza, analysts predicted that negotiating concessions will be a major focus of Sunday’s talks in the Egyptian capital.
Nasser Khdour, a political analyst who specializes in Palestinian-Israeli relations, told The National that creating a national government is “one possible option to address the internal Palestinian conflict.”
“While Hamas struggles with economic difficulties in the Gaza Strip, Fatah is dealing with a legitimacy problem and trying to handle the ongoing armed rebellion in the West Bank.
Since the 1967 conflict, Israel has controlled the West Bank.
Since the beginning of last year, there have been an increasing number of attacks against Israeli targets by Palestinians, raids by the Israeli military on alleged assailants, and attacks on Palestinian towns by Israeli settlers.
One of the largest operations the Israeli army has performed in the West Bank in recent years was a two-day attack on Jenin earlier this month.
Large portions of the camp were demolished, and 12 Palestinians—including children—were slain. Additionally, one Israeli soldier perished.