October 8, 2009
The sharp crisis that erupted over the Palestinian Authority’s handling of the report by Justice Richard Goldstone is now threatening to torpedo Egypt’s efforts to sign a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah.
Earlier this week, the Egyptians announced that Hamas and Fatah had agreed to sign an accord on October 25 that would end their dispute and pave the way for holding new presidential and parliamentary elections in the first half of 2010.
The agreement was to be signed at the end of a three-day conference of various Palestinian factions in Cairo to discuss ways of achieving “national unity,” according to sources close to Hamas and Fatah.
But in light of the controversy surrounding the PA leadership’s decision to withdraw support for a resolution calling for the UN Human Rights Council to endorse the findings of the Goldstone report on Operation Cast Lead, some Hamas officials said on Wednesday that this was not the appropriate time to sign a deal with Fatah, whose leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is being accused by many Palestinians and Arabs of “high treason.”
Hamas leaders and spokesmen have launched a scathing attack on Abbas for dumping the motion at the UN Human Rights Council, with some calling for putting him on trial for betraying and harming the national interests of the Palestinians.
Hamas supporters in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday hurled shoes at portraits of Abbas , who they said did not represent the Palestinian people.
Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, is said to have advised the Egyptians to either postpone or call off the planned intra-Palestinian conference in the wake of renewed tensions between his movement and Fatah over Abbas’s decision.
A Hamas legislator said that his movement was convinced that a deal with Fatah under the current circumstances would serve only the interest of Abbas and deflect attention from the “scandal” in the PA.
“Abbas has proved to all that he’s a traitor who receives instructions from Washington and Tel Aviv,” the legislator said. “We don’t want to be aligned with someone like him. Even his Fatah party is against him.”
Zahar, according to the legislator, told the Egyptians that he does not see how Hamas could shake the hand of someone who “helped Israel during the war and is now helping Israel bury its crimes.”
Ismail Radwan, a top Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, said that “no Palestinian wants to sit with Mahmoud Abbas and those who perpetrated crimes against our people.”
Radwan said that by withdrawing the resolution, Abbas and his men were accomplices to Israel’s “war crimes.”
He added that in light of the uproar caused by Abbas’s decision and “treason,” Hamas has suggested to the Egyptians that the conference be delayed until further notice.