Following Hamas visits to Iran, Fatah says the Islamic Republic is paying Hamas leaders in Gaza to block reconciliation efforts; attempts to implement unity agreement at an impasse.
Iran is funding some Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip to encourage them to thwart efforts to achieve reconciliation with Fatah, Azzam al-Ahmed, member of the Fatah Central Committee, said Saturday.
Ahmed’s charges came in response to the visit of two top Hamas leaders, Mahmoud Zahar and Ismail Haniyeh, to Iran in the past few weeks.
“Iran does not want the Palestinians to end their divisions,” Ahmed told the Lebanese newspaper Al-Mustaqbal. “Iran is responsible for foiling attempts to achieve reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.”
Relations between Hamas and Iran were strained recently following the Islamist movement’s refusal to support Syrian President Bashar Assad’s ruthless crackdown on his opponents.
Relations between the two sides suffered another setback with the signing of the Qatari-brokered reconciliation pact between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.
In a bid to ease the tensions, Zahar and Haniyeh visited Tehran separately in the past few weeks, assuring the Iranian leaders that Hamas has not abandoned the armed struggle against Israel despite the deal with Fatah.
Ahmed admitted in the interview that efforts to implement the reconciliation pact have reached an impasse. He blamed Iran for the “inciting” Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip against rapprochement with Fatah.
“Iran has apparently played a role in inciting Hamas leaders against the reconciliation agreement,” he charged. “Iran is playing a negative role with regards to the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation.”
The Fatah official added that Iran has provided financial aid to Haniyeh in return for his opposition to the Qatari-brokered deal.
In response, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denounced the allegations as “trivial.” He accused the Fatah official of seeking to escalate tensions with Hamas and reiterated his movement’s readiness to implement the reconciliation accord instantly.
Abbas, meanwhile, told a visiting Jordanian parliamentary delegation last Friday that “small obstacles” were preventing the establishment of a Palestinian unity government, as envisaged by the reconciliation pact.
“I don’t want to go into details, but there are some small problems facing the formation of a unity government dominated by technocrats,” Abbas was quoted as saying. He nevertheless expressed hope that the two sides would be able to overcome the obstacles.