Speaking today during a meeting in Tunis, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the Iranian government, claiming they were behind the failure of his Fatah faction to reconcile with Hamas.
Fatah and Hamas had a preliminary agreement to sign a Cairo reconciliation deal in October, but the deal never happened. Abbas insists that Iranian opposition is what is holding the deal up.
Iran has maintained close ties with the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, even as Fatah has sought closer relationships with the United States and Europe. Hamas and Fatah’s most recent split came after Hamas won the 2006 elections. At Western urging, Abbas maintained control over the government and largely ignored the election’s results. Eventually Hamas seized control over Gaza, as Fatah consolidated power in portions of the West Bank.
At the same time, it may be oversimplifying to say that Iran is the only reason for the delay or even that Hamas is. The two factions had a similar reconciliation deal in March of 2008, which both sides signed. Shortly later, Fatah said their negotiator signed by mistake and that the deal would not be honored.
Tensions between Hamas and Fatah have grown over the years and the two sides clearly don’t see eye to eye on many major issues. It is perhaps unsurprising then that the reconciliation has never materialized, despite international efforts to make it happen at all costs.
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