Hamas Leaders Meet With Abbas In Qatar For Reconciliation

Leaders of the Hamas movement announced on Thursday that they had offered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a “complete vision” to achieving reconciliation between Hamas and the ruling Fatah movement., According to Palestinian local agencies.

Head of the movement’s politburo Khalid Mashaal, his deputy Ismail Haniyeh and President Abbas met in Qatar on Thursday, at the home of Qatar’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Muhammad Bin Abed al-Rahman al-Thani.

The Hamas movement released a statement following the meeting, saying they discussed challenges and risks surrounding the Palestinian cause, “priorities for the Palestinian people at this stage, especially achieving reconciliation and ending division.”

The statement added that the movement’s leadership “offered a complete vision for achieving reconciliation via certain techniques and steps to uphold previously signed agreements.”

The movement highlighted the necessity for “comprehensive elections on all levels” and an agreement between the political parties “on a political and resistance agenda to face the occupation” specifically regarding settlement expansion.

The Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency reported that during the meeting in Qatar, President Abbas stressed national reconciliation “and removing all causes of division by forming a national unity government and holding elections.”

According to Wafa, the two parties agreed that achieving reconciliation was the key to “saving the Palestinian national project and facing the Israeli government’s plans of destroying the two-state solution.”

On the other hand, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Palestine’s political divisions should be resolved by “ballots not bullets” through the establishment of a unity government, said to Anadolu Agency.

In the interview, Erekat evaluated recent developments in the Palestinian political arena, including ongoing efforts to reconcile with resistance movement Hamas — which has run the Gaza Strip since 2007 — through the establishment of a unity government with possible Turkish mediation.

Erekat noted that reconciliation talks between the two had been held in February in Doha.

“What we want to achieve now is a national unity government based on a PLO program — that includes Hamas — so that we might go back to the ballot box,” he said.

“We must resolve our differences with ballots, not bullets,” he stressed. “We’re offering to establish a national unity government with Hamas before holding presidential and legislative elections, because that’s the only way to achieve reconciliation.”

Israel is exploiting Palestinian internal divisions, Erekat said, “to destroy the notion of a two-state solution”.

The Jewish state, he went on, wants “one state with two systems” in Jerusalem and the West Bank — a situation he described as “apartheid” — while maintaining its decade-long blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian leadership, he said, also intends to push for full UN membership.

Erekat also expressed hope that France would soon hold an international conference devoted to ending Israel’s decades-long occupation.

The relationship between Hamas and Fatah has been in a dire state after a government of national consensus was dissolved in June 2015, one year after it was first announced.
The two Palestinian parties have had particularly tense relations since Hamas won legislative elections in 2006 and became the ruling party in the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, municipal elections set to be held earlier this month were postponed following a controversial decision by the Fatah-run Supreme Court in Ramallah. They were to be the first elections in the Gaza Strip in a decade.
Officials from the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority have criticized Hamas for creating a shadow government in the Gaza Strip and blocking efforts to reach political unity.

Hamas has in turn accused the PA of executing a plan to “eradicate” the movement from the West Bank, saying that an arrest campaign of hundreds of members was carried out by the PA to target reconciliation efforts between the two factions.