Ma'an News Agency
February 24, 2012 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hamas officials on Thursday played down reports that the movement was placing barriers in front of a reconciliation deal it signed with Fatah earlier this month.

Party spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Hamas was moving forward with the deal in line with the terms agreed in Doha by President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal.

Barhoum was responding to reports that a Hamas official said the group was setting new terms for implementing the deal, including demands for certain ministries.

"We don’t have any demands which would block the reconciliation," Barhoum said. "Any amendment to be added by Fatah or Hamas is to protect the process of reconciliation," he said.

But according to an official involved in the talks, at an internal meeting chaired by Mashaal in Cairo on Wednesday Hamas officials united behind new demands. The terms seemed certain to be rejected by Abbas.

In a rift with the Islamist group's leadership outside Gaza, officials in the Hamas-ruled enclave have criticized the accord, particularly its call for Abbas to serve as prime minister as well as president.

Issam Abu Dakka, a leader in the Democratic Front, told Ma'an that certain demands had come up during the talks, including the parliament vote and how to divide up the ministries.

"Hamas has requirements on appointing ministers and that might postpone the formation of a new government, which was supposed to be discussed on Thursday in Cairo."

"Hamas wants to have 51 percent of ministers and wants to control three ministries: finance, interior and justice," he said. "It also demands that a deputy for the prime minister be named."

Other demands that emerged from the Cairo meeting included naming a Gaza-based deputy to Abbas and making his appointment as prime minister conditional on a vote of confidence in the parliament.

The legislature has not been in session since the collapse five years ago of a short-lived unity government.

"Hamas demanded to keep the key ministries in the new government, including the ministry of interior," said another official. "It also demanded no change in the structure of security services in the Gaza Strip."

The interior ministry oversees the Hamas-run security services, and Palestinian political analyst Samir Awad said the new terms proved the group "was not prepared to abandon control of Gaza".

Abbas has been seeking a unity government staffed by independents and technocrats to ensure it would not be boycotted by the West, which donates essential funds and refuses to deal with Hamas.


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