A top Hamas official declared over the weekend that the possibility of disarming the Iran-backed terror group never came up during unity discussions between it and the rival Fatah faction, a boast that seems set to widen concerns that the agreement – which among other things envisions a single Palestinian government eventually taking control of both the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and of Fatah-ruled parts of the West Bank – may be insufficiently robust to overcome fundamental obstacles to the creation of a viable Palestinian state.
Hamas Political Bureau Deputy Chief Moussa Abu Marzouk told reporters on Saturday that not only had disarming Hamas never been discussed, despite the almost definitional need for Ramallah to maintain a monopoly on the use of force, but that the organization would also refuse to recognize Israel:
“We have rejected and continue to reject any conditions detracting from Palestinian rights,” he was quoted by Qatari news channel Al-Jazeera as saying. “Hamas will remain loyal to the right of return and to liberation.”
Renouncing violence and acknowledging Jerusalem’s right to exist are two of three so-called Quartet conditions – abiding by past Palestinian Authority (PA) agreements is the third – that the international community has long demanded any Palestinian government fulfill. PA President Mahmoud Abbas has insisted in recent days that the envisioned unity government will meet those conditions, claims that earned him an explicit rebuke for lying by former Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud Al-Zahar.
The news came amid indicators that the deal was nonetheless providing a lifeline to the group, which until very recently had widely been seen as locked in a political and economic downward spiral. Traditional Hamas allies such as Turkey and Qatar immediately hailed the deal, and the Qataris reportedly pledged to deliver $5 million to the Gaza government in support of Hamas-Fatah reconciliation in response to an explicit request made by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh:
The report quoted the Gaza government’s Minister of Endowment Ismail Radwan who stated on Sunday that Qatar’s contribution was intended for financial support of “community reconciliation,” particularly providing funds to families who lost relatives to infighting between Fatah and Hamas.
Radwan stated that the proposition was made by Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh who contacted Qatar Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani via telephone to request financial support.
According to the report, the money will be used to pay ‘blood-money,’ among other things.
Meanwhile Palestinian media reported on Monday that Abbas had held a meeting with Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal in Doha aimed at overcoming remaining obstacles.
[Photo: ellen cooper / YouTube]