The senior member of Fatah's Central Committee in charge of the national reconciliation portfolio has noted that the August 14 deadline for Hamas to fulfil certain obligations has passed and warned that the secular movement may have to make "painful" decisions.
Azzam Al-Ahmed insisted that Fatah would not "remain hostage to Hamas" on the formation of a national consensus government and announcing the dates for presidential and parliamentary elections.
Speaking to Mawteny Radio, Al-Ahmed said that Fatah has already started to consider what should be done. Decisions, he claimed, may go beyond what has been agreed with Hamas but he and his colleagues will wait to see how things develop in Egypt. He expressed his hope that the situation across the border settles down and Cairo can resume its role on the international and regional stage. Egypt has hosted reconciliation talks between the two main Palestinian factions.
Al-Ahmed added that the future of the Gaza Strip will be studied carefully. What he called the "status quo imposed by Hamas" cannot be allowed to continue, he insisted. Commentators point out that he appears to have overlooked the fact that the Islamic Resistance Movement has more legitimacy to "impose" anything on Palestine than Fatah, having won the last elections in the occupied territories.
Apparently Fatah and Hamas were supposed to meet on June 30 but events in Egypt led to the cancellation of the meeting. "I called Hamas," said Al-Ahmed, "and spoke to Mousa Abu Marzouk to tell him that the Fatah movement was ready to hold a meeting in any place they choose. "He promised to respond in three days, claimed Al-Ahmed, but instead of calling and providing a response, he issued a statement that had a "flood of false accusations" against the PA in Ramallah. "He and other Hamas leaders continued to escalate the situation and tensing up the atmosphere." This was a reference to the accusations from Gaza that the PA in Ramallah has been cooperating with the Egyptian coup leadership and media in a malicious campaign against Hamas and Palestinians in the besieged territory.
The Fatah official said that Hamas wasn't ready for reconciliation because it has other priorities. He accused the Islamic Resistance Movement of capitalising on the start of negotiations with the Israelis to justify its "failure to commit to reconciliation".