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'No one can substitute Egypt's regional position': Fatah official

As Hamas speaks of Qatar and Turkey as potential mediators of the Palestinian reconciliation efforts, Fatah's Ahmed Assaf asserts that 'no one can substitute Egypt's regional position'

Ahram Online , Wednesday 4 Dec 2013
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Photo: AP)
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Fatah Spokesman Ahmed Assaf said his strong faction remains the "sponsor" of the Palestinian reconciliation process, Egypt's state-run news agency MENA reported Wednesday.

Assaf spoke in light of recent statements by Moussa Abu Marzouq, member of Hamas' politburo – and Fatah's main rival – in which he mentioned Turkey and Qatar's involvement to fill the "vacuum left by Egypt concerning the Palestinian cause due to its preoccupation with its internal affairs."

"The statements made by Abu Marzouq to indicate his opposition to the Egyptian management of the reconciliation make Cairo seem responsible for the failure of the process so far," Assaf said.

Confirming that "no one can substitute Egypt's regional position," Assaf argued that the Islamist movement denies the role played by Egypt throughout recent years in achieving "Palestinian national unity."

He questioned why Abu Marzouq had chosen Turkey and Qatar rather than Saudi Arabia or Jordan as other possible Middle Eastern nations and stated that "the answer is up to the Palestinian and Arab peoples."

"Only Hamas, and not Egypt, should be held accountable for the breakdown of all reconciliation efforts after the 2007 coup it staged in Gaza, causing a state of division and stalled Palestinian-Egyptian bids due to its illusionary justifications that would not even persuade a child," he asserted.

Assaf stressed that the problem was never an outcome of the "identity of the mediator" and accused Hamas for also failing on previous Turkish and Qatari endeavours for reconciliation.

The Fatah leader described the Gaza-ruling Hamas as the "military wing of the Muslim Brotherhood" that interferes in Egypt's and Syria's internal affairs. "The majority of the Palestinians reject such an attitude," he noted.

"1,800 Hamas leaders became millionaires due to illegal trade through underground tunnels; Hamas also turned the strip into a base supporting the Brotherhood's implementation of its own project in the Middle East," Assaf emphasised. 

Assaf called on Hamas to re-arrange its priorities in order to serve Palestine and the Palestinian people and not the Brotherhood movement.

"Abu Marzouq's comments came in contradiction with Egypt's political and popular will after the 30 June revolution; Hamas was expected to express its readiness to implement the signed agreements and not commercialise the cause," concluded Assaf.

The two groups had reached an Egyptian-sponsored unity agreement in April 2011, although the deal's main articles have not been applied so far.

The agreement had been intended to pave the way for presidential and legislative elections by May 2012, but several differences of opinion, including who would head a transitional government, snarled the implementation.

In early 2012, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and Fatah leader and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed a new deal in Doha, under which the latter would head the interim government. But Hamas leaders in Gaza rejected the arrangement, accusing Meshaal of taking decisions unilaterally.

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