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Security portfolio hinders Palestinian reconciliation

February 17, 2014 at 11:17 pm

The moves towards national reconciliation between the two main Palestinian movements of Fatah and Hamas are deadlocked because of complications arising out of the security portfolio, special sources have revealed.

The proposed merger of the security services in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is one of the core issues still awaiting a satisfactory resolution, as is security cooperation between a unified national government and the Israel occupation authorities.

These are the complications which the factional delegations have been unable to resolve. Azzam Al-Ahmad, the head of the Fatah delegation in Cairo, and his counterpart for Hamas, Mosa Abu Marzooq, had been hoping to arrange a meeting between Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshaal to announce the launch of the reconciliation government later this month.

The issue of political detainees is cited as another reason for the failure of the process to bring an end to the internal division which started in 2007.

Activists claim that the number of such detainees being held by both groups actually increased across the West Bank during the reconciliation talks. Many Palestinians affiliated to Hamas, for example, are being held in Palestinian Authority prisons in the West Bank under the pretext of protecting them from being assassinated by the Israelis. One of them has been on hunger strike for more than a week in protest at the bad treatment he has been given by PA officers.

Nabil Shaath, a senior member of Fatah’s central committee, said earlier that the expected meeting between Abbas and Meshaal was postponed because of the Egyptian presidential election run-off, but other Palestinian sources confirmed that the real reason is the disagreement between the groups’ representatives over security issues.

“The delegations could not reach agreement on the identity and role of the interior minister in the reconciliation government,” the anonymous sources claimed. “This is a part of the security portfolio which was to be resolved during the Abbas and Meshaal meeting.”