Emad Drimly, Osama Radi
June 2, 2011 - 12:00am

A high-ranking Islamic Hamas movement official on Wednesday accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of breaching the reconciliation agreement, which was signed in Cairo and sponsored by Egypt on May 4 between the movement and Fatah party.

Mahmoud al-Zahar, Hamas strongman in Gaza, said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua that President Abbas has made a mistake " when he tried to make the new government, which should be formed after signing the agreement, as his own government, instead of a government of national accordance."

"Practically, this is the first breach of the agreement," al- Zahar, who called for implementing the reconciliation agreement " with goodwill." He also said that the process of implementing the reconciliation agreement "cannot be done in a minute."

Al-Zahar, who also had internal disputes with senior Hamas leaders, said that there are still disagreements among all Palestinian factions and political powers "although the reconciliation agreement was signed, because each group has its own political program."

He referred to the upcoming elections, saying that since each faction has its own strategy, and there are disputes among these factions, "the elections will be held amid these disputes and the people will decide through the polls which political program of these programs they want to choose."

Al-Zahar, whose two children were killed by Israel over the past ten years, stressed that "Despite what is happening in the Arab World, reconciliation is an internal Palestinian affair. We want social reconciliation and we want elections to be held and its results to be accepted, no matter who wins."

On May 4, Fatah and Hamas signed on an Egyptian-drafted pact of reconciliation. According to the agreement, the two movements agreed to form a national unity government that prepares for holding the general elections, reconstructing the Gaza Strip and ending the Israeli blockade.

The reconciliation agreement was considered by Israel as "a strike to the Middle East peace process," which has been stalled since October last year. The agreement, however, ends around four years of internal division that began when Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007.

President Abbas challenged Israel and the United States, who opposed the reconciliation agreement signed with Hamas movement. He said that the program of the new technocrat government will be the same political program as that of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) which signed the peace deal with Israel.

Asked if the reconciliation would pave the road for a permanent peace settlement with Israel, al-Zahar told Xinhua "In case the results of the elections are forged, I believe there might be something true like what you asked, because Israel, which gained the world's support, is not offering anything."

About the influence of the U.S. and Israel's opposition to the Palestinian reconciliation, al-Zahar said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "is not intending to give the Palestinian people anything," adding when the division was there, he used to say there is no Palestinian peace partner."

"When the reconciliation was signed, Netanyahu said the reconciliation is harming the peace process," said al-Zahar, adding "these are just excuses aiming at finalizing the project of settlement. The occupation will never give us more than what we got, when the occupation pulled out from Gaza in 2005."

He went on saying that "Fatah movement should understand how Netanyahu thinks and it should stop misleading the Palestinian people that there is a peace process and an independent Palestinian state might be established on the territories of 1967 with Jerusalem as its capital."

Concerning the dues of the coming September, al-Zahar said that in September there are two options, either to gain a United Nations recognition of an independent Palestinian sate amid a continuation of settlement, or to make concessions over Jerusalem or drop the right of refugees' return.

"The second option is that Obama and the United States will use the veto right against any project of demanding an international recognition of an independent Palestinian state in the UN Security Council," said al-Zahar, adding "then what will happen afterwards? They will get back to talks."

About reopening Rafah crossing between Gaza Strip and Egypt permanently, al-Zahar said "this is a very important step, but it is still incomplete, because there are lists of people who are still prevented from traveling through Egypt, and the crossing is only opened for individuals."

"We are looking forward to an open crossing not only for people but also a commercial passage between Gaza Strip and Egypt in order to disconnect the link between Gaza Strip and the Israeli enemy. The commercial passage will be used for medicine, electricity and food," he added.

Egypt decided on Wednesday to reopen Rafah crossing and ease restrictions imposed on traveling for Gaza Strip's population. Israel opposed the Egyptian decision and said reopening Rafah crossing unilaterally 'threats Israel's national security."


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