The Secretary-General of the League of Arab States has blamed the Palestinian national liberation movement, Fatah, and the Islamic resistance, Hamas, for the failure to achieve Palestinian reconciliation. Consequently, Amr Moussa said that he was pessimistic about the future of the peace process in the Middle East.
After a meeting with Hamas leaders in Damascus on 15th July, Mr. Moussa said, “Both parties are responsible for the disruption of reconciliation steps; perhaps there are other parties involved as well, but the prime responsibility lies with the main Palestinian factions.”
Adding that Palestinian interests are at risk as long as division exists, Mr. Moussa said that he still hopes that reconciliation can be achieved, noting that there is willingness and goodwill for Hamas to reconcile with all Palestinians. “But we want progress,” he said, demanding that the Palestinian leaders should sit together to resolve their differences and end the conflict.
Responding to Mr. Moussa’s statement, the head of the political bureau of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, confirmed the desire of his movement to achieve reconciliation. “I assure you that Hamas is keen on removing all obstacles to reconciliation,” he said.
Mr. Meshaal called for all parties to address the contentious issues and the Egyptian document stating them “to be the reference point for Palestinian reconciliation”, adding, “We are ready for reconciliation and we hope everyone can respond to this and not to US pressure”.
Hamas political bureau member Izat Al-Rishq said that the meeting between his movement’s delegation and the Arab League’s Amr Moussa discussed the negotiations with the Israeli occupiers, the Judaising of Jerusalem and the expulsion of Palestinian parliamentarians from the Holy City as well as the reconciliation process.
“We have assured Secretary-General Moussa that we are responsive to the reconciliation efforts,” Mr. Al-Rishq, “and that Fatah has retreated from its commitments towards reconciliation and has not responded to the mediation of Arabs and Palestinians. We asked him to put pressure on Fatah to respond to these efforts.”
Hamas, said Mr. Al-Rishq, believes that approval to switch to direct negotiations with Israel is harmful to the Palestinian cause, and that the movement feels that President Mahmoud Abbas is manoeuvring to gain Arab cover for the transition to direct negotiations.
“We called for a unified Arab position against direct negotiations, and reviewing the peace process, which have become a cover for Netanyahu to continue settlement activities. In time, Palestinians will not find anything with which to negotiate or to negotiate for.”
In a statement published prior to the meeting, Fatah said, “There must be no transition to direct talks for peace in the Middle East as the United States planned, before progress is made in the indirect talks brokered by Washington.”
Fatah blamed the lack of credibility of the Israeli party of poor progress in indirect talks lunched two months ago, and mediated by US Special Envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell.
Fatah statement marked its position on urging for “the need for progress on borders and security before talking about direct negotiations”, and called on Palestinians to rally around their “leadership”.