Hamas Backing away from Fatah Reconciliation

Jerusalem, Mar. 22 – Hamas appears to be abandoning its much talked-about reconciliation agreement with Fatah because of new traction the terrorist group has gained from the success of political Islam, according to a report published Thursday.

“Hamas was able to survive for five years...and now Hamas feels it is in a much better situation,” Gaza analyst Mkhaimar Abu Sada said in a Yisrael Hayom report. “The region is becoming more Islamist, more friendly to Hamas through the election of political Islam. Hamas does not want to rush anything.”

Iran-backed Hamas was isolated following its victory in the 2006 Palestinian elections and a subsequent bloody coup in Gaza in which it seized power from Fatah, headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Fatah supports the peace process, while Hamas violently rejects peace with Israel.

The Hamas leadership in Gaza never embraced the unity agreement even after Abbas and the Syrian-based leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal signed it in February. Gaza leaders instead want to capitalize on the momentum of political Islam and extend their rule to the West Bank, the report said.

However, Hamas rulers in Gaza ran into a roadblock this week after the military government in Cairo cut off fuel supplies previously smuggled to Gaza under the Egyptian border. The Egyptians want Hamas to resume obtaining fuel via Israel because Cairo fears opening the border to trade with Gaza would shift more of the Gaza burden from Israel to Egypt, The Washington Post reported.

Hamas makes money by taxing fuel smuggled under the Egyptian border and insists that Egypt allow smuggling or sell its fuel at below-market prices, rather than obtain fuel through the depot on the Israeli-Gaza border. The ensuing fuel shortage has resulted in power cuts, public complaints and the closure of 80 percent of Gaza’s gas stations.

The Fatah-Hamas reconciliation effort threatened the future of peace talks because of the hard-line Hamas stance rejecting both peace and the idea of negotiations with Israel. However, the failure to form a unity government leaves a pro-peace Palestinian government in the West Bank with the rejectionist Hamas in power in Gaza and Abbas unable to negotiate on behalf of all Palestinians.

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