Hamada al-Hattab, Osama Radi
June 17, 2010 - 12:00am

A Gaza-based senior official in President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party said Wednesday that ending the three-year Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip is linked with reaching an inter-reconciliation treaty.

Zakareya al-Agha, member of Fatah central committee and Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) executive committee, told Xinhua in a special interview on the occasion of Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip by force for three years that "Lifting the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip is linked with reaching a real inter-Palestinian reconciliation."

Al-Agha, who appreciated the visit of Arab League chief Amr Moussa to Gaza on Sunday, "Without ending the rift, the siege will continue, but when reconciliation is reached, it will be easy to lift the siege."

Asked about the efforts to achieve an internal reconciliation and a Palestinian unity, al-Agha told Xinhua that the Arab and other countries' efforts to achieve reconciliation "have never stopped and are still going on at all levels," adding "these efforts have increased following the attack on the Gaza aid Freedom Flotilla."

Egypt postponed the inter-Palestinian dialogue after Hamas refused to sign on an Egyptian-drafted pact of reconciliation, saying it has some reservations on some points that need to be considered. However, Fatah movement accepted the pact and signed on it.

Fatah and Egypt insisted that Hamas should sign the reconciliation pact first and then all its reservations would be considered as soon as the reconciliation agreement is implemented. However, Hamas rejected and insisted that its reservations must be first discussed.

Al-Agha said that the reconciliation delegation that Abbas instructed to form, which was headed by Munib al-Masari, the prominent businessman, "is waiting for green light to head to the Gaza Strip to meet with Hamas leaders and finalize the reconciliation."

Meanwhile, "Hamas doesn't publicly announce that Fatah is illegal group," said al-Agha.

"Hamas has treated us as an illegal organization and prevented us from carrying out any organizational activities in Gaza, though it doesn't make it officially clear that we are illegal," said al- Agha, adding "The interior security of deposed Hamas government has carried out measures which indicate that Fatah is illegal."

Al-Agha, a senior Fatah official in Gaza, who has been arrested several times by Hamas police, complained that "Hamas security in Gaza raided Fatah offices and establishments in the Gaza Strip and confiscated everything in these offices, in addition to the daily arrests of Fatah members and activists."

"Everyday, Hamas security forces in the Gaza Strip detain Fatah members and activists, question many of them and sometimes ban the Fatah leaders and members from traveling either to the West Bank or abroad," said al-Agha, adding "it is very clear that Fatah is basically targeted in the Gaza Strip."

He also reiterated that Hamas policy against Fatah movement in the Gaza Strip is "exclusionary," adding "Hamas doesn't only target Fatah movement, but also targets other political groups and factions. Hamas' rule of Gaza is based on suppression of freedom and human rights violations."

Al-Agha revealed that Hamas leadership "always has its own justifications that its policy against Fatah in the Gaza Strip is a reaction or a response to what happens in the West Bank."

"But I tell Hamas that this is a very big mistake because we are against the violation of laws in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip," he added.

Hamas movement seized control of the Gaza Strip by force in June 2007, and routed Abbas' security forces.

"Hamas has prevented me personally from leaving the Gaza Strip as well as the vast majority of Fatah leaders, members and activists," said al-Agha, who described the situation in the Gaza Strip as "the worst ever due to the Israeli siege that has been imposed for three years."

He added that the 1.7 million Palestinian residents of the impoverished enclave of the Gaza Strip "are severely suffering in their daily life due to what is going on."

However, the 68-year-old moderate Fatah leader said "We completely reject arrests and banning freedom of speech practiced either by Israel or our brothers."

"What is happening in Gaza over the past three years is not accepted at all. The suffering of the people which was a result of the Israeli security measures is enough and we really don't want to add more suffering and more pain to our people," said al-Agha.

Since Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, Fatah and Hamas have been trading accusations against each other of violating the law and cracking down against the leaders and activists of the other.

Palestinian rights groups said that human rights situation has retreated over the past three years.

Al-Agha was confident that his movement which was ousted by Hamas in the legislative elections held in January 2006 in the Palestinian territories "is able to achieve an overwhelming victory in any upcoming legislative elections."

"Any negative practices carried out by any authority against its people are negatively reflected against it, while on the other hand the other party who faces repression and violations would gain the popular support, and this is really what happens for Fatah in the Gaza Strip," he said.


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