The rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas announced last week that they have reached an agreement to form a transitional government to run Palestinian institutions in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and are preparing for general elections within the next three months.
A few days after this, deputy Hamas leader, Mosa abu-Marzouq, told the London based newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that there are no discrepancies between the two parties and both maintain good contacts with each other.
However, the Palestinian public has expressed scepticism about the agreement, which has been preceded by several similar agreements announced from different Arabic capitals. Most Palestinian politicians and political analysts are also sceptical about the agreement.
The fears of the Palestinian street came true when on Monday, the head of the Fatah bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Azzam al-Ahmed, said that Fatah is going to form a new government in the West Bank to replace the deposed one headed by Salam Fayyad.
Al-Ahmed, the lead official in the Fatah delegation which negotiates with Hamas, affirmed that the government is not the one which they agreed on with Hamas in Cairo last week. "That one was postponed to three months later," he told the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam.
Justifying his movement's retraction, Al-Ahmed said: "Because of the lack preparedness to issue presidential decrees to form the agreed upon government, and to begin preparations for the elections, formation of the reconciliation government was postponed."
Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Mosheer al-Masri, called this move a retraction of pledges agreed upon in Cairo last week. "We [Hamas] are still committed to the Cairo agreement," he told MEMO. "Everything is expected to be carried out symmetrically."
Regarding Al-Ahmed's announcement, Al-Masri said: "Forming a new government in Ramallah refers to internal differences between Fatah and Fayyad and Hamas is something separate from these differences." But he insisted that his movement is ready to go ahead with implementing what was agreed in Cairo.
Answering a question on whether Fatah has informed Hamas about its lack of preparedness, Al-Masri said: "No, and we are still working to fulfil our obligations."
The independent PLC member based in the West Bank, Hassan Khreeshah, told MEMO that both movements "clearly failed to prove their commitments to what they agreed upon in Cairo." He blamed external pressure on both sides.
However, the prominent professor of political studies in the West Bank, Abdul-Sattar Qasem, said that any agreement announced between the two parties is "unreal" and that the Palestinians are always deceived. He implied that blame for the repeated retractions of the reconciliation agreements lay with Fatah and the PA.
Qasem ruled out any reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas because of vast differences in the political programmes of both movements. "One part's political programme is devoted to protecting Israel, and the programme of the other part is to fight Israel," he told MEMO.
To solve the problem, Qasem suggested a deep solution going back to 1993 when late Fatah leader Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Accords with the Israeli occupation.
"That is what divided the Palestinian nation and resulted in the current division," he said. "When the Palestinians call these Accords off, they will reconcile with each other."