Palestinian Affairs

Hamas Cancels Unity Government Talks With Fatah

On-again off-again reconciliation talks between the rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas have reportedly shifted from temporarily off again to something more than just temporarily delayed.  Hamas cancelled the scheduled February 27 meeting in Cairo between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal, and no date has been set for resumption of talks.

Fatah and Hamas have postponed reconciliation talks, Hamas officials said Wednesday. “I believe the recent trading of accusations between the two sides led to the postponement,” said a Hamas leader, Ahmed Yousef, regarding Wednesday’s scheduled Cairo talks. Another possible reason he suggested was the planned visit by U.S. President Barack Obama in March to Israel and the West Bank. Both sides may first want to learn about the consequences of that visit, he said.

Political analyst Ibrahim Aldrawi outlined today a number of significant dynamics [Arabic] behind the breakdown — including differences over the status of Hamas institutions in the Fatah-controlled West Bank — but emphasized that the most proximate cause for the postponement was President Obama’s upcoming visit to the region. Progress toward a unity government now, under terms set by Hamas, would complicate the president’s visit and might make it difficult for him to persuade Congress to release some $700 million in assistance desperately needed by the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas is a genocidal organization that rejects the existence of the Jewish state and has stipulated that reconciliation between the Iran-backed terror organization and Fatah is dependent on non-recognition of Israel.

Fatah and Hamas have been independently running the West Bank and Gaza Strip respectively since 2007, when Hamas violently seized control of Gaza in a bloody week-long coup that left more than 100 people dead and more than 550 wounded. Hamas committed an array of atrocities against Fatah loyalists during the fighting, including shooting out their kneecaps, throwing them off buildings, and executing them in front of their families  Lingering resentment over those tactics is among the barriers that have blocked reconciliation.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh unpacked the differences between the rival factions in an interview last year, emphasizing that Hamas’s insistence on violence against Israel was among the barriers blocking reconciliation:

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