After years of Palestinian division between the Fatah group and Hamas, who controlled the Gaza Strip, a reconciliation agreement was concluded and a Palestinian unity government announced.
Euronews Egypt correspondent Mohammad Shaikhibrahim has been in conversation with Mr. Azzam Al-Ahmad the Fatah movement’s delegation chief and its official handling the reconciliation with Hamas.
Mohammed Shaikhibrahim, euronews: “How do you describe the progress which was made in achieving the Palestinian reconciliation especially as years passed without reaching any real agreement?”
Azzam al-Ahmad: “The first thing that happened to influence the agreement was the revolution of June 30 in Egypt which has affected the whole region. I have said previously that the period after June 30 and what happened in Egypt was an earthquake and the tremors and its influence will continue for a long time.
‘The first reflection of what happened in Egypt was and will continue to be in Palestine, and the situation will change inside Gaza, it will either influence the thinking of Hamas and its attitude, or the attitude of the people of Gaza about the situation.
‘The second reason is the alliances that have changed in the Middle East which impacted the Palestinian situation, as what happened in the Gulf countries, and their attitude of supporting the revolution of June 30 in Egypt.”
Euronews: “Do you mean that the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has helped you to facilitate and to complete the reconciliation with Hamas, which is considered part of the Muslim Brotherhood?”
Azzam al-Ahmad: “Certainly, this played a basic role, if the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas a group which is a part of them had wanted to end the division and complete what they signed in the past, which was the agreement signed in Egypt on May 4, 2011 it would have been possible for them to do so. But the Muslim Brotherhood ruled in Egypt for one year and the reconciliation process did not advance one step.”
Euronews: “To what extent are you worried of the possibility that Hamas will break the reconciliation agreement?”
Azzam al-Ahmad: “No, we are not worried, but we are cautious, I do not think they will retract on what has been agreed because the division has ended forever, and it will not be back.
‘Now if they do think about another split then that would require new tools and new ways which are not available to them at the moment.
Euronews: “Some people said that this reconciliation is a sham, and that Hamas still effectively controls the Gaza Strip, what is your response to that thinking?”
Azzam al-Ahmad: “First of all, my language has been very clear and unequivocal. I told you the division has ended legally and politically. I told you there is a state of occupation, therefore, how do we deal with the issue of weapons in Gaza?
‘This a complex and thorny matter, and it is not easy, some people have asked if Hamas would try the Hezbollah experience in Gaza. I want to point out to you we are fully aware of that. “
Euronews: “What are the main obstacles facing the Palestinian government of the national reconciliation?”
Azzam al-Ahmad: “Firstly, the unity of all institutions, civilian and security. Looking at security, some military factions within the security agencies have not been formed with the backing of the law and according to the reconciliation agreement a top level security committee is to be formed by President Mahmoud Abbas, as the supreme leader of the security agencies, to unite these factions, under the supervision of Egypt and the Arab League.
‘On the other hand, in the light of the peace process, the position of the Israeli occupation and its role is an important factor facing the new government.”
Euronews: “What kind of pressure did Israel impose upon you to not complete the reconciliation with Hamas and what are Israel’s interest to not reach the agreement?”
Azzam al-Ahmad: “Israel tried to carry out financial sanctions, but we told them, across the United States and the European Union, that if they imposed those financial sanctions we would go immediately to the United Nations and all its institutions, including the four Geneva Conventions and the FAO and the International Criminal Court.
‘Furthermore, perhaps we will take other steps more than those, such as a declaration of the state from a single side, with the support of the international community, according the decision made on November 29, 2011 to accept Palestine as a member of the United Nations, and the escalation of the popular fighting, and finally to stop any possibility of returning to negotiations.”
Euronews: “How does the incident of the disappearance of three Israeli settlers affect the reconciliation agreement with Hamas and how does it impact on establishing a new national accord government during this period?”
Azzam al-Ahmad: “The first statement from Israel accused President Mahmoud Abbas and put the responsibility upon him. But they did not have any information and they don’t know where the settlers are, or even if they have actually been kidnapped, or if there may have been an accident or if they may have disappeared or if there is some sort of game.
‘What happened raises many questions which still remain. Especially because the region where this happened is called Etzion which is located between Hebron and Bethlehem.
‘It is an area with a very large settlement, and the Palestinian Authority does not have a presence there, also there are no Arab villages in that area, the region contains settlements and Israeli camps.
‘However, this shows that Israel is unable to maintain security, and Hamas has so far denied any connection to the incident. Hamas has not recognised this process, and as yet Israel has not proved if they really were kidnapped and by whom.
‘Israel has exercised a policy of fascism with traditional occupation, represented by repression and persecution of all Palestinians.”