Hamas-Fatah unity deal in jeopardy as Hamas refuses to give up arms

Is the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal failing already? Hamas is refusing to give up it massive arsenal. 

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

The recently signed reconciliation agreement between the Fatah and Hamas Palestinian factions is already encountering resistance, as Hamas is refusing to cede its security control of the Gaza Strip and of its massive military arsenal.

Hazem Atallah, the Palestinian national police commander, on Wednesday cast doubt on whether the reconciliation agreement can be carried out, warning that his forces cannot guarantee law and order unless Hamas disarms in Gaza.

With his comments, Atallah acknowledged that the most significant sticking point in the reconciliation talks — who will control Hamas’ substantial arsenal, which includes long-range rockets — is nowhere near resolution.

“It is impossible. How can I do security when there are all these rockets and guns? Is this possible? It doesn’t work,” Atallah told a gathering of foreign journalists.

The rival Fatah and Hamas factions are in the midst of their most serious attempt at reconciling, a decade after Hamas violently overran the Fatah-led forces of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Gaza, and the latest in several previous failed attempts.

After  PA head Mahmoud Abbas exerted extreme pressure on Hamas in Gaza, it agreed to relinquish control of the Strip, and the rival factions reached a preliminary agreement last month.

This first phase of the deal included Hamas handing over the government departments, border crossings and security services to the PA.

The PA has gained control of the crossings and government departments, but it has not yet exercised effective authority on the ground.

Hamas says its military wing, along with a massive arsenal of rockets, mortars and bombs, is a “red line” that is not negotiable. It also has demanded that its thousands of police be folded into Atallah’s force.

Atallah laid out tough conditions for Hamas. He indicated that he would not accept any Hamas police into his own force, saying that he would only employ officers hired before the 2007 Hamas takeover. He also said that it would be unacceptable for Hamas to hold on to its weapons.

The solution, he said, is to “take them away.” The orders, he added, “are very clear. We are talking about one authority, one law, and one gun.”

The factions are to meet again in Egypt, which has been mediating, on November 21, for what Atallah called “very important” talks.

Atallah said he is waiting for political leaders to give him the order to take over in Gaza. “Plans are ready, but we need orders,” he said.

Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said this week that his government cannot operate at the crossings without the presence of the security forces, an issue which has not been discussed so far.