Fatah reiterates plan to make “painful decisions” if Hamas rejects elections 28Aug13 August 28, 2013

MEMO-Middle East Monitor    -    27 August 2013

khaled-meshaal-with-mahmoud-abbasRumours are rife about the possible actions that may be taken by the Palestinian Authority leadership against Hamas and the Gaza Strip within the context of the stalled reconciliation agreement which states that a national consensus government, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, should be formed. Talk of an election date is also doing the rounds.

Speculation arose after PA officials had declined to identify the nature of the decisions that they described as “painful”. Their Hamas counterparts, meanwhile, announced that they have information about the intention of President Abbas to set a date for the elections unilaterally without reaching a consensus with Hamas first. There are also rumours about the possibility of declaring Gaza to be a “rebel territory”.

The Secretary of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, Maqboul Amin, said in a press statement that his movement is pushing for an election as “a way out” in light of the difficulty of implementing the terms of the reconciliation agreement. “The election is a fundamental right for the Palestinian people, and no faction is permitted or has the right to hijack it or make it subject to partisan or external agendas”, insisted Maqboul, in a clear reference to Hamas.

He stressed his movement’s support for elections. “We hope to reach an understanding on this matter with all forces, including Hamas,” he said, pointing out that Fatah wants to hold the elections in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jerusalem and the diaspora.

The Fatah official reiterated its position when he spoke about the Palestinian leadership’s options in the event that Hamas rejects the election date: “We have not heard from Hamas that it rejects the elections, but if we hear it, we might resort, at the time, to tough and painful choices that we do not hope to get to.” However, he dispelled fears that Abbas might declare Gaza to be a “rebel territory” as “this is not on the leader’s agenda”.

In Gaza, Ihab El-Ghussein, a spokesman for the Hamas-led government, told Al-Quds Al-Arabi that they have information about the PA’s election intentions and accused Fatah and the authority of seeking foreign support. He said that their plan will fail. According to another Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, Fatah’s use of the term “lifeline” reflects its policy of “blackmail” and seeking foreign support.

In the context of talking about alternatives for ending the state of political division, a member of the Political Bureau of the Palestinian People’s Party, Walid Awad, called for the formation of a Palestinian constituent assembly, comprising the members of the Central and Legislative Councils, to assume tasks that would be agreed upon during the transition phase. This, he claimed, would help the Palestinians to move out of the current political crisis.

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