Khaled Abu Toameh
The Jerusalem Post
June 29, 2010 - 11:00pm
http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=179956


A Palestinian committee that was recently formed to find ways to end the crisis between Hamas and Fatah has disbanded after concluding that the gap between the rival parties is unbridgeable.

The panel, which was headed by independent businessman Munib al-Masri, was formed immediately after the flotilla aid ship incident in late May.

Members of the committee were scheduled to visit the Gaza Strip for talks with Hamas leaders about the crisis. However, the visit was canceled after Hamas announced that it would not receive the delegation.

Hani al-Masri, a senior official with the PA Ministry of Information who was chosen as a member of the “reconciliation” committee, blamed both Hamas and Fatah for the continued crisis.

He said that Hamas’s reservations over an Egyptian plan to solve the crisis, as well as Fatah’s opposition to changes in the initiative, were the main reason behind the failure of the mediation efforts.

Hani al-Masri said that despite the decision to dissolve the committee, efforts would continue on several levels to end the crisis. He also called on Palestinians to step up pressure on the rival parties to force them to patch up their differences.

A Hamas official in the Gaza Strip claimed on Tuesday that Egypt and the US were pressuring Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas not to strike a deal with Hamas.

According to the official, Abbas initially appeared to be serious about achieving reconciliation with Hamas, but changed his mind after being warned by the US administration and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

“The Americans and Egyptians know that Hamas is very popular and strong,” the Hamas official added. “They’re afraid that the reconciliation would further bolster Hamas’s popularity and earn it legitimacy and recognition.”

Mahmoud Ramahi, a senior Hamas representative in the West Bank, said that more than 500 Hamas supporters were being held in PA-controlled prisons.

Dozens of others were being summoned on a daily basis for interrogation by various branches of the PA security forces in the West Bank, he said.

Ramahi also said that the PA had fired hundreds of civil servants who were suspected of affiliation with Hamas.

He said the PA’s ongoing crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank “showed that Abbas was not serious about achieving reconciliation.”

Ramahi pointed out that among those arrested by the PA were two of his assistants.




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