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Hamas will not disarm and calls on Fatah not to succumb to external pressure

Senior Hamas members prepare for PA delegations to arrive in Gaza on 2 October 2017 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, said on Monday that it has never put its weapons up for negotiation, and stressed that it would never bargain them away for any political gains. Khalil Al-Hayya of the movement's Political Bureau told a press conference in Gaza that the arms of the resistance groups are a red line and not a subject for discussion; nor is the issue of salaries for government employees engaged by Hamas while it was in government in the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah is refusing to pay the salaries.

Al-Hayya also called upon Fatah and the PA not to succumb to external pressure and damage the reconciliation process. The deputy head of Hamas in Gaza called upon the Palestinian factions and politicians to stop speaking about the resistance weapons. Insisting that Hamas is serious about reconciliation with Fatah, he rejected claims that the movement had rushed towards the process as some kind of "concession". He described it instead as Hamas demonstrating its "flexibility" and pointed out that it is unapologetic for what it has done.

The Hamas official, who lost more than 10 family members, including sons and brothers, in Israeli offensives between 2005 and 2014, added that the weapons "will be moved to the occupied West Bank to be used in fighting the Israeli occupation." The Palestinians, he insisted, have the right to continue fighting the occupation until it is ended. "These weapons are our honour."

Ever since 12 October, when Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation deal in Cairo brokered by Egypt, Hamas has ceded control of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority controlled by Fatah from Ramallah. However, several Fatah officials, including President Mahmoud Abbas, have claimed that Hamas did not hand over control of the Gaza Strip because it insists on keeping its arms. Nevertheless, many senior Fatah members accept that neither faction discussed this issue in the reconciliation talks in Cairo and have said that the handover of Gaza was carried out fully; they have called for Abbas to lift his sanctions on the coastal enclave.

Read: Internal differences within Fatah over reconciliation with Hamas

Regarding the government of national accord, which has been controlling Gaza since the middle of October, Al-Hayya noted that it is directed by Fatah, not the Palestinian factions as agreed when it was formed in 2014. He added that it should have been approved by the Palestinian parliament one month after its formation, but this did not take place; in that sense, therefore, it is still a "defective" government.

In the most recent factional meeting in Cairo, Fatah refused to discuss any of the issues on the pre-planned agenda, claiming that Hamas did not handover control of Gaza. In response, the Hamas representatives invited Egypt to send a delegation to the Gaza Strip to follow up the handover, Al-Hayya confirmed.

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