June 24, 2011 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 699

The Fatah-Hamas Reconciliation: Was There an Agreement?

June 24, 2011 | By Y. Yehoshua*
Palestine | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 699


The story of the Palestinian reconciliation agreement is a "Rashomon" of conflicting versions and interpretations. Today, one month after the reconciliation ceremony, the details of the agreement remain uncertain. The only uncontested element is the document of understandings that accompanied the agreement, an initialed copy of which was published in the Arab and Palestinian press. As for the document to which these understandings relate – namely the agreement itself – its precise content remains unclear, and there seems to be tacit agreement to refrain from officially releasing it. On this backdrop, different versions of the agreement and its details have been published, and there may have even been deliberate attempts at deception.

Apparently, the main purpose of the inter-Palestinian agreement was to make a show of unity at any cost, despite the disagreements between the sides, in order to promote the Palestinian diplomatic initiative planned for September 2011 – though there are those on both sides who doubt the efficacy of this diplomatic initiative.

An examination of the understandings between the two sides suggests that, in the short term, Fatah has gained the upper hand. The agreement, formulated against the backdrop of the uprisings in the Arab world, met the demand of the Palestinian public to end the Fatah-Hamas schism, thereby freeing the PA and PLO if this public pressure, which was focused mostly on them. Moreover, though Fatah has granted Hamas a share in the government, the latter movement has made a series of concessions: It has been decided that, until the elections are held, a government of technocrats – rather than a unity government – will be established, which, contra to Hamas's former demand, will not handle diplomatic affairs. Moreover, as PA president, Mahmoud 'Abbas will direct the negotiations with Israel in the coming year, if any. It has also been agreed that the interim leadership framework – a body comprising representatives of all the Palestinian factions that is to handle diplomatic affairs in the coming year – will not infringe upon the PLO's authority.

The sides have also agreed that in the coming year – until elections are held for the presidency, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and the Palestinian National Council (PNC) – the security and political status quo will be maintained. According to some reports, Hamas has granted the PLO one more year to continue negotiations with Israel, during which time it will maintain the tahdiya (calm) and refrain from firing rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip.

According to Hamas senior officials, these concessions by the movment are meant to facilitate the Palestinian initiative to seek U.N. recognition for an independent Palestinian state in September, by removing the main obstacle to this initiative, namely the Fatah-Hamas schism. Hamas has expressed its willingness to accept a state in the 1967 borders, presenting this as an interim stage in the process of eliminating Israel, and as a strategy approved by Hamas's former leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin. At the same time, Hamas officials have stressed that the Palestinian state will not be established by the U.N. but only through jihad.

Apparently, Hamas believes that cooperation with Fatah will serve it in the long run, because the implementation of the agreement and the outcome of the elections will bring about a profound change in the makeup of the Palestinian leadership and in its strategy. Moreover, fully integrated in the Palestinian government, the PLC and the PLO, Hamas will gain the international legitimacy it has been seeking since its takeover of Gaza. Hamas downplayed the significance of its concessions by stressing that the negotiations between the PLO and Israel are bound to fail anyway, which will force the Palestinians to come up with a new strategy vis-à-vis Israel. The movement also explained that its temporary commitment to the tahdiya does not mean that it has opted for peace and abandoned the resistance.

It is noteworthy that, alongside the involvement of the Egyptian government, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood played a key role in brokering the agreement. In a statement he issued, the movement's general guide, Muhammad Badi', related that representatives of the Palestinian factions had convened at the Muslim Brotherhood's new headquarters in Muqattam, and had reached an agreement in just four days.[1] The Muslim Brotherhood's involvement can be regarded as one of the reflections of the cooperation between this movement and Egypt's post-revolution government; it can also be seen as an attempt by the Muslim Brotherhood to restrain its Palestinian branch, Hamas, in order to improve its own image in advance of the Egyptian elections. Hamas, for its part, may be worried about the possible collapse of the Syrian regime. These apprehensions may have prompted it to rely more heavily on the new Egyptian administration and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

The agreement was signed amid profound disagreement between the sides. Most points of contention were not settled in the agreement itself but deferred for discussion at a later date; some of them are to be discussed only after the elections in about a year. These disputes and the fact that the agreement has not been made public, as well as the conflicting statements and interpretations given by the spokesmen of the two movements after its signing, cast serious doubt over the agreement's chances of success.

This report will attempt to determine which document the sides have signed, what the goals of the reconciliation are, and what understandings have been reached on the political and security levels despite the principled disagreements between Fatah and Hamas in these domains.

What Documents Have Been Signed?

Even today, about a month and a half after the reconciliation ceremony, it is not yet clear what documents were signed by the parties.[2] To probe this question, one must examine two documents: the understandings document and the reconciliation agreement:

1. The Document of Understandings

On April 27, representatives of Fatah and Hamas signed a document of understandings, an initialed copy of which was widely published in the Palestinian and Arab media. This document mainly addresses Hamas's reservations about the reconciliation agreement, which it refused to sign in 2009. There is no controversy over the content of the understandings document, though there is disagreement about the interpretation of certain clauses.

The main points of the document of understandings are as follows: An elections committee will be appointed on an agreed-upon basis; an electoral court will be established; elections will be held for the presidency, the PLC and the PNC within one year; a supreme security council will be appointed on an agreed-upon basis; an "interim leadership framework" will be appointed, whose decisions will not conflict with those of the PLO; and a government will be appointed on an agreed-upon basis, whose tasks will be to prepare the elections, handle all issues pertaining to the reconciliation, rehabilitate Gaza, end the siege, unify the PA institutions in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Jerusalem, manage charity associations and NGOs, and activate the PLC.[3]

2. What Is the Document to Which the Understandings Relate?

As for the main document to which these understandings relate – namely the agreement signed in May 2011 – the situation is far less clear. Egypt and Hamas have refrained from publishing any version of this document, whereas the PA and Fatah have published two different versions of it. Unlike the understandings document, neither bore the signatures of the parties.

The two versions are:

A. An Egyptian document titled "The Egyptian Approach to Ending the Palestinian Schism," which was presented to the Palestinian factions in September 2009 when the Egyptian efforts to mediate a reconciliation were at their height. Following the May 2011 reconciliation ceremony in Cairo, the Palestinian news agency WAFA published this document, along with the document of understandings, as the agreement that was signed (see WAFA, May 6, 2011).

This "Egyptian Approach" document sets out the points of agreement between the two sides as well as the points of contention, along with ideas by the then Egyptian administration for bridging the differences. The document was initially published in the Palestinian media in September 2009 (see for example Al-Ayyam, September 12, 2009).

B. The National Accord Agreement, which was published in the Palestinian press one day before Fatah signed the reconciliation agreement on October 15, 2009 (see for example Al-Ayyam and the Hamas-affiliated website, October 14, 2009). The website of the Fatah National [Inter-Palestinian] Relations Commission (, which was recently launched and is associated with Fatah official 'Azzam Al-Ahmad, published this document as "the document signed in Cairo in May 2011."

Doubts Regarding the Version Published by WAFA

The fact that there does not exist one official version of the agreement bearing parties' signatures (as well as the conflicting reports in the Fatah and PA media as to which document was signed), suggest that there is a Palestinian and Egyptian effort to obfuscate the facts and conceal the exact wording of the agreement (assuming that any agreement was signed at all). This, in contrast to the document of understandings, which was definitely signed, and was published by various media outlets with the signatures of the Fatah and Hamas leaders.

An analysis and comparison of the documents suggests that the version presented by the Palestinian news agency WAFA as the agreement is not the correct version; its publication possibly constitutes a deliberate attempt to mislead and to conceal the text that was actually signed.[4]

It is far more likely that the agreement actually signed (if any), to which the document of understandings relates, is the document that was published in the Palestinian media on the eve of Fatah's signing of the reconciliation agreement in 2009, under the heading "National Accord Agreement," or else a document very similar to it.

This assumption is based on the following facts:

  1. The document titled "The Egyptian Approach to Ending the Palestinian Schism" is worded as a preliminary mediation paper, and was presented to the Palestinian factions as early as September 2009. It was posted in the Palestinian media (e.g., in Al-Ayyam) on September 12, 2009, when the Egyptian mediation efforts were at their height.
  2. One month later, shortly before Fatah signed the agreement proposed by the Egyptians, the Palestinian media (Al-Ayyam,, October 14, 2009) published a different (and presumably more up-to-date) version of the Egyptian agreement, under the heading "National Accord Agreement". This document is more detailed and is phrased as an agreement rather than a mediation paper. Moreover, it is generally agreed to be the document signed by Fatah in October 2009.
  3. After the Egyptian brokering attempts failed, in October 2009, and after Fatah signed the agreement proposed by the Egyptians while Hamas refused to sign it, Hamas submitted a memorandum to the Arab League detailing its reservations about the agreement Fatah had signed. This memorandum quoted excerpts from the National Accord Agreement.[5] This indicates that the document Fatah signed was indeed the National Accord Agreement and not the Egyptian mediation document recently published by Wafa as "the reconciliation agreement."
  4. Egypt's official statement from April 27, 2011 said explicitly that Hamas had signed the National Accord Document signed by Fatah in October 2009.[6]

Does the Agreement Include the Charter of Honor?

It is unclear whether a charter of honor has been appended to the agreement. In October 2009, on the eve of Fatah's signing of the reconciliation agreement, it was reported that a document called the Charter of Honor had been appended to it. A version of this charter was published on the Hamas-affiliated website and in the Qatari daily Al-Sharq on October 14, 2009.[7] According to the website, this document has also been appended to the May 2011 reconciliation agreement.

Who Is Party to the Agreement?

Furthermore, it is not clear to what extent the other Palestinian factions are party to the agreement. According to some sources, all the Palestinian factions have signed it.[8] Other sources, in particular Islamic Jihad officials, have claimed that the agreement is bilateral, i.e., between Hamas and Fatah alone, and that the other factions that were invited to sign it have agreed to commit to it only partially.[9] Islamic Jihad Secretary-General Ramadan 'Abdallah Shalah told the daily Al-Hayat that he had made it clear to the Egyptians "that Islamic Jihad is determined not to be party to the reconciliation agreement, but to participate only as an observer." He added that, "consequently, the Egyptians added a full clause to the document of understanding specifying that the [Palestinian] factions would be bound by the agreement to the extent to which they endorsed it and accepted its clauses."[10]

The Agreement: A Show of Accord amid Disagreement; A Challenge to Israel and U.S. Policy

The reconciliation agreement was signed amid intense controversy between Fatah and Hamas. Reports have it that the reconciliation ceremony was preceded by a hostile meeting between PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mash'al, and that 'Abbas refused to sit beside Mash'al at the ceremony and objected to him giving a speech there.[11]

However, the sides were interested in signing the agreement as a display of national unity, both towards the Palestinian public and towards the international community. The agreement met the demand of the Palestinian public to end the internal schism, and at the same time paved the way for the declaration of a Palestinian state in September 2011 by removing a major political obstacle to this initiative, namely the inter-Palestinian rift.

In their speeches at the reconciliation ceremony in Cairo, the leaders of the two movements stressed their commitment to Palestinian unity. Khaled Mash'al said: "The members of Hamas and Fatah must always stand united, so that blood does not flow like water. The era of division is behind us. I hereby declare on behalf of Hamas that we are ready to pay any price, and have decided to pay any price, in order to achieve reconciliation and make the agreement a reality. We want to quickly overcome this difficult stage, and gather the fragments into the framework of the [Palestinian] National Authority and the PLO, [so as to] become a single authority, a single organization and a single [source of] authority."[12] Mahmoud 'Abbas said at the ceremony: "The people of Hamas are our brothers, residents of our [homeland], and a part of our people."[13] He rejected the claim of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he must choose between reconciliation with Hamas and negotiations with Israel, saying: "We have never asked anyone's permission to handle our internal Palestinian affairs, and we never will." He added that the Palestinian people was "a victim of state terrorism perpetrated by the Israeli occupation, and of the settlers' terrorism."[14]

Some Fatah officials presented the reconciliation as an act of choosing Hamas over Israel and the U.S. Fatah Central Committee member 'Azzam Al-Ahmad, who headed Fatah's delegation to the recent reconciliation talks, said at a Cairo press conference that Israel had warned 'Abbas against signing a reconciliation agreement with Hamas, but 'Abbas had replied, "Yes, we do want Hamas. It is part of the fabric of the Palestinian nation, [just] like Fatah, the Popular [Front], the Democratic [Front]... and the rest of the factions... National unity is the sharpest weapon we possess in confronting the occupation."[15] Another Central Committee member, 'Abbas Zaki, said: "Better the hell of Hamas than the dungeon of Israel, because Hamas... is part of the Palestinian fabric. Our conflict with Hamas is temporary and momentary, whereas our conflict with Israel is strategic... We sought peace in order to alleviate the problems in the region, but it was proven beyond a doubt that we and Hamas are in the same trench in the conflict with Israel."[16]

The reconciliation with Hamas caused a further deterioration in the PA's relations with the U.S., which had not been privy to the plans to sign the agreement. PA and Fatah officials condemned America's unenthusiastic response to the agreement, stressing their commitment to Palestinian unity. 'Abbas Zaki said: "For a while, Israel and the U.S. sowed division and strife [among us]. They are enemies of the Palestinian people, who have never done a thing for us or given us anything we would be sorry to lose. America employs a double standard, allows Israel [to commit its] crimes, and deprives us of our rights, so we have nothing to lose. It is Palestinian unity that will compel America and Israel to back down... After we [Palestinians] sort out our affairs, they will come to us, groveling."[17]

Fatah spokesman Ahmad 'Assaf likewise condemned the American stance on the reconciliation, saying: "The official American position was always in favor of ending the schism, but now that this has happened, the Americans have taken a position of blindly favoring Israel."[18] In an interview with Al-Ayyam, 'Azzam Al-Ahmad attacked the U.S. Congress for threatening to stop the aid to the Palestinians: "Those who threaten us with stopping the aid, it is time they began to treat us like human beings. In my opinion, the Palestinian people must choose between money and its national honor."[19]

Hamas, for its part, saw the reconciliation as proof that the PA was distancing itself from the U.S. In an interview with a Hamas-affiliated news agency on the eve of the agreement, Hamas Prime Minister Isma'il Haniya said, "The reconciliation will become a reality only when the PA's decisions are free from American and international pressures, and when [Fatah] realizes that the path of negotiations has failed and that the Palestinian people needs to agree on a new strategy that will guarantee its rights and preserve its steadfast principles."[20] After the initialing of the understandings document, Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahhar remarked: "We have managed to make an achievement not on America's terms but on purely Palestinian terms."[21] PLC Deputy Speaker Ahmad Bahr, from Hamas, said that the signing of the reconciliation agreement was a great triumph for the Palestinian cause and a defeat for the American enterprise in the region.[22]

The Inter-Palestinian Reconciliation Removes a Major Obstacle – the Palestinian Schism – from the Path of the September Initiative

The two sides mentioned several motivations for signing the reconciliation agreement at this time. In addition to pressure by the Palestinian public to heal the internal rift, they mentioned the political changes in the Arab world and particularly in Egypt, the deadlock in the negotiations with Israel, and the bid to obtain recognition for a Palestinian state in September 2011.[23]

PA spokesmen stressed that the reconciliation will facilitate the September initiative, because lack of unity serves Israel and is an obstacle to gaining international support for this move. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad welcomed the reconciliation, calling it a "crucial step" that will allow the Palestinian people "to exercise self-determination and establish its independent state with noble Jerusalem as its capital, on all our land that has been occupied since 1967."[24] 'Azzam Al-Ahmad said that 'Abbas and Fatah firmly insisted upon the need to unite around the principle of resistance to the occupation, in preparation for the demand to have Palestine recognized as an independent state with full U.N. membership.[25] At a press conference, he said: "The occupation exploited the [Palestinian] schism in order to Judaize Jerusalem, complete the construction of the [separation] fence, and gobble up large parts of the West Bank... Israel used [the schism] in order to evade its obligations according to the legitimate international resolutions. The U.S. and [other] elements in the international community have likewise evaded their duty towards the Palestinian people and the Arab nation, [which is to work towards] ending the last occupation that still exists in the annals of history. That is why we feel proud to have united the Palestinian will and decision, and to have met the need to end the schism in order to end the occupation."[26]

The sides have agreed on a common goal, at least for the time being: the establishment of a state in the 1967 borders along with the realization of the Palestinian refugees' right of return.[27] Khaled Mash'al said at the reconciliation ceremony that "the Palestinian national goal" is to "establish a sovereign Palestinian state in the [West] Bank and the [Gaza] Strip, with Jerusalem as its capital, and without relinquishing a single grain of soil or the right of return."[28] In an interview with the daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat he said: "We must not reduce the rights of the Palestinian people to [obtaining] recognition for a state and nothing more. The important thing is for the occupation forces to withdraw to the June 4 lines, and for a Palestinian state to be [established] in this territory – a state with sovereignty over its land, airspace, resources and water, and empty of [Israeli] settlers and settlements."[29]

While Fatah presents the establishment of the Palestinian state in the 1967 borders and the realization of the right of return as the final goal, for Hamas it is only an interim goal. Columnist 'Issam Shawar, who is close to Hamas, wrote in the Gazan daily Falastin: "The Palestinian factions have agreed on a joint political plan... The minimum [they aim to achieve] is the establishment of a Palestinian state on part of Palestine. Fatah and the PLO may regard this as the final goal, [whereas] Hamas regards it as a mere step towards the full liberation [of Palestine]. [The two movements] must work together to realize their [joint] aim."[30]

Hamas members clarified that seeking recognition for a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders did not mean giving up the goal of liberating all of Palestine. Hamas Poltical Bureau member Salah Al-Din Abu Sharakh, commander of the Gaza security apparatuses, described this as "a move formerly initiated by Sheikh Ahmad Yassin in order to divide the liberation [into several stages]. This is permitted, and does not constitute giving up the rest of our beloved land."[31]

Moussa Abu Marzouq likewise described the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank as a stage in Hamas's strategy: "Hamas's strategy has not changed, but since we won the PLC elections we have had an immediate goal, an important national goal that we strive to [realize] and take part in [pursuing] – namely [to establish] a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and occupied Jerusalem without recognizing Israel, and to rebuild the PLO in terms of its programs, structures and institutions. This is the goal which we aspire to realize in the next stage."[32]

Writing in the Hamas newspaper Al-Risala, Ibrahim Dahbour, a PLC member from Hamas, likewise stated that the idea of accepting a state in the 1967 borders was nothing new, because Hamas had proposed it as early as 1988. He added: "Establishing a state... is the outcome of an ongoing, escalating and gradual jihad operation on the way to realizing the goal: the liberation of Palestine as a whole and the actual return of all the refugees."[33] In response to the statement of U.S. President Barack Obama in favor of a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders, Hamas senior official Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said: "[Obama] talks about the 1967 borders as though they are sacrosanct, but who said we agree to the 1967 borders and are not talking about the 1948 borders? Why does he not talk about the [Palestine] Partition Resolution [i.e., U.N. Resolution 181], which is an international resolution?"[34]

Hamas Sticks to Its Position: No Recognition of Israel; The Quartet and Its Terms Are Obsolete

The reconciliation agreement was signed without Hamas having met the terms of the Quartet, namely recognizing Israel and past agreements with it, and relinquishing violence. Fatah pointed out that it did not require Hamas to recognize Israel. Addressing this issue, Mahmoud 'Abbas said: "Hamas is not obliged to recognize Israel. We will establish a government of technocrats and we will not demand that Hamas recognize Israel."[35] The establishment of a unity government composed of independent technocrats (rather than representatives of the various movements), whose authority is limited almost exclusively to rebuilding Gaza and preparing for the elections, in effect frees the PA from international pressure and from economic sanctions, which may have resulted had Hamas joined the PA government without meeting the terms of the Quartet.[36]

Hamas officials reiterated their refusal to recognize Israel in many media interviews and appearances. After the initialing of the understandings document, Moussa Abu Marzouq said at the Cairo press conference: "We did not mention the word 'Quartet' or [the Quartet] terms even once in these understandings."[37] In an interview with Al-Hayat he said: "Hamas has a principled position, namely that we will not recognize the Zionist entity. Our rights are still denied [us], and it does not make sense to recognize the Zionist entity, because this will be at the expense of our stolen land and our people [who are living] in refugee camps." He explained that there was no connection between establishing a Palestinian state and recognizing Israel, as evident from the fact that many Arab states refuse to recognize Israel yet maintain ties with the international community.[38] Abu Marzouq related that, in previous talks between Fatah and Hamas, "there were arguments about the diplomatic program of the national unity government, and the point of contention was the terms of the Quartet. [But] now the Quartet and its terms are obsolete, [so] we did not mention it or its terms in our understandings."[39] Hamas Prime Minister Isma'il Haniya even called on the PLO to withdraw its recognition of Israel, because "[Israel's] existence on our land is illegal, so it cannot be recognized."[40]

Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahhar assessed that, despite Hamas's refusal to accept the terms of the Quartet, and in particular the demand to recognize Israel, the movement's international status would improve in the wake of the reconciliation with Fatah. In an interview with Al-Jazeera, he said: "After the establishment of the Palestinian government, Hamas's relations with large parts of Europe are bound to improve." He explained: "The European Union is a member of the Quartet. [However,] the Quartet's voice has grown gradually weaker in the recent period, especially as a result of the Goldstone Report, the Palestinian peoples' steadfastness, and the pure blood shed near the Gaza coast [by the activists of] the Freedom Flotilla... We are bound to encounter problems with Israel, the U.S. and the occupation, but at the same time, [other] doors will gradually open in the international community, including among the Quartet [countries]. So the picture is not so bleak..."[41]

Controversial Issues Will Be Handled at the Stage of Implementing the Agreement

In order to make reconciliation possible, it was decided that certain controversial issues will be implemented only at a later stage. Among these issues are the establishment of the government; poltical issues, including the policy towards Israel; the security issue, and the reforms in the PLO. They are to be handled by joint committees to be established in the coming year, as stated in the understandings document. Some of them will be handled only after the elections, to be held a year from now.

Referring to the disagreements between the two sides, Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said to Al-Jazeera TV: "There were understandings about some issues, for instance about the government... [However,] we have not determined who will head it, but have left all these [issues] for negotiations at a later date. After we sign the reconciliation document on Wednesday, we will convene the Palestinian General Steering Committee [this presumably refers to the interim leadership framework], which is to include the secretaries of all the movements and factions, as well as Abu Mazen and the PNC chairman, and propose a mechanism for implementing the agreement. This will require the release of prisoners on both sides... We will make every effort to find a mechanism for [sorting out] all the details... Within a year, a committee will determine how to unite the Palestinian police forces. During [this] year, all the committees will convene to shape our future [policy] vis-à-vis the government, security, and the elections, while the national accord government [i.e., the government of technocrats] will govern."[42]

Isma'il Haniya likewise listed many issues whose resolution has been postponed to the stage of implementing the agreement. He said: "The implementation stage of the reconciliation agreement will focus on practical matters: [reaching] an agreement on establishing a Palestinian government that will be honored by all elements and by the Palestinian people, and [agreeing on] the identity of the independents who will join the Palestinian leadership. We must stop the [mutual] attacks in the media, agree on the establishment of a supreme security council according to the provisions of the [reconciliation] agreement, outline a security policy, agree on establishing a supreme elections committee and an electoral court, [set out] a joint diplomatic program and a joint security program, and activate the Legislative Council so that it perform its duties."[43]

PLC Second Deputy Speaker Hassan Kharisha said that, in the coming year, the Legislative Council will refrain from discussing issues disputed by Fatah and Hamas, in order to strengthen the reconciliation.[44]

Hamas and the Other Palestinian Factions Will Be Incorporated into the PLO

The sides have reiterated past understandings regarding reorganizing the PLO to incorporate all the Palestinian factions, including Hamas. (This was part of the 2005 Cairo Agreement; the 2006 National Accord Document, aka the Prisoners' Document, and the 2007 Mecca Accord). It was agreed that "the PLO must be activated and developed to the satisfaction of [both] sides, so as to incorporate all the Palestinian factions and forces." It was also agreed to "reinforce the PLO's status as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people" and to elect a new PNC in proportional representation elections.

As for the elections to the PLC, the PNC and the presidency, the document of understandings states that they are to be held within a year. The Palestinian factions are expected to take part in these elections, and Islamic Jihad movement has already announced its intention to participate.[45]

It should be noted that the incorporation of elements that do not recognize Israel into the PLO may weaken the international support for negotiations with this body. One week after the signing of the reconciliation agreement, Hamas official Salah Al-Din Abu Sharah implied that, after joining the PLO, Hamas will work to change the PLO's agenda: "Hamas will join the PLO not in order to recognize Israel or the decisions of the Quartet, or [in order to recognize] agreements that could degrade our people, but in order to reform this organization and revive it."[46]

The Interim Leadership Framework

Prior to the signing of the agreement, one of the main points of contention between Fatah and Hamas was the question of who would wield authority in the period between the signing of the agreement and the holding of elections to the PNC. Hamas demanded that an "interim leadership framework" be established, which would function as the Palestinian source of authority until the reforms in the PLO are enacted, and whose decisions would be binding.[47] Fatah, who saw this as an attempt to form a substitute for the PLO, objected on the grounds that the PLO was the sole Palestinian source of authority.[48]

Eventually, the sides agreed that an "interim leadership framework" would be established, but refrained from explicitly stating which body would be the source of authority during the interim period. This interim leadership is mentioned both in the reconciliation agreement (i.e., the National Accord Agreement published in Al-Ayyam on October 14, 2009) and in the document of understandings. The reconciliation agreement states that a joint committee will be established comprising the chairman of the PNC (i.e., Mahmoud 'Abbas), the members of the PLO Executive Committee, the secretaries-generals of all the Palestinian factions, and independent national figures. The agreement stipulates further that this committee will function as the "interim leadership framework" until the PNC elections are held, while emphasizing "the authority of the Executive Committee and other PLO institutions." According to the agreement, the interim leadership will oversee the development of the PLO and define its relationship with the PA, as well as the relationship between the PLC and the PNC, while preserving the PLO as the source of authority and preventing overlaps in authority. The interim leadership will also be in charge of "political and national issues of crucial importance" and of taking agreed-upon decisions regarding them, of formulating the principles and mechanisms of the PNC, and of overseeing the implementation of the movements' joint decisions.[49]

In response to Hamas's reservations about the phrasing of this clause in the reconciliation agreement, and its demand that the decisions of the interim leadership be binding, the sides reached a compromise by adding the following clause to the understandings document, in the subsection dealing with the PLO: "The Fatah and Hamas movements have agreed that the tasks and decisions of the interim leadership framework will be irrevocable, as long as they do not conflict with the authorities of the PLO Executive Committee."[50]

This deliberately ambiguous phrasing – which reflects the deep controversy over this issue – leaves it unclear which body is to function as the supreme Palestinian authority during the transitional stage: the interim leadership or the PLO, and avoids defining the exact division of labor between them. It thus allows the two sides to adhere to their conflicting positions regarding the supreme source of authority, each side interpreting the clause as it wishes. This fact is reflected in conflicting statements by Hamas and Fatah officials: 'Azzam Al-Ahmad, of Fatah, told the daily Al-Bayan that the interim leadership "belongs to" (i.e., is subordinate to) the PLO, and that its authorities will not conflict with those of the PLO Executive Committee.[51] Conversely, Salah Al-Bardawil, the head of Hamas's information department in Gaza, said that the role of the interim leadership will be "to restrain the existing diplomatic process," led by the PLO, "in order to prevent concessions."[52]

Political analyst Hani Al-Masri, who was involved in brokering the agreement, referred to the ambiguous phrasing of this clause: "The Cairo agreement calls for the rapid convening of the interim Palestinian leadership, and this is an important matter for which we have long been waiting. But there is a need to resolve a contradiction that exists in the agreement. [One] sentence [says that] 'the tasks and decisions of this leadership will be irrevocable.' Hamas takes this to mean that the interim leadership will be the supreme source of authority, superior to the PLO, otherwise [this leadership will be] useless. [However, the next sentence says that the interim leadership's tasks and decisions are irrevocable] 'as long as they do not conflict with the authorities of the PLO.' Fatah takes this to mean that the interim leadership will be subordinate to the PLO, [for] otherwise it will undermine [the PLO's] legitimacy and achievements. If each side adheres to its own interpretation... the agreement could fail..."[53]

The Diplomatic Level: No Joint Program until after the Elections

Fatah and Hamas signed the agreement without formulating a joint diplomatic program. Addressing this issue in an interview on Al-Jazeera TV, Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said: "Let me clarify that the diplomatic programs [of Hamas and Fatah] will remain distinct. The question is how to formulate them so that they do not conflict... Our perspective is completely different from that of Fatah. Fatah believes in negotiations, whereas we believe that negotiations with the Israeli enemy are futile."[54] In an interview with Al-Hayat, Khaled Mash'al explained that a joint diplomatic program will be formulated only after the elections, in about a year: "After the elections, we will choose our leadership and agree on diplomatic plans." He stressed, however, that "after the reconciliation, no [side] will have the right to take diplomatic decisions on its own."[55] Also, the two sides have agreed that urgent diplomatic issues will be handled by the interim leadership and not by the government of technocrats to be established.

PA officials stressed that the reconciliation agreement did not change anything on the diplomatic level, because negotiations with Israel would be under the authority of the PLO, rather than the authority of the government of technocrats – this, without addressing the question of the PLO's status vis-à-vis the interim leadership. The Palestinian news agency WAFA even reported that Hamas had withdrawn its demand that the government of technocrats handle diplomatic affairs, and had agreed that the negotiations with Israel and the peace process be handled by the PLO.[56]

PA officials expressed a willingness to renew the negotiations with Israel if the latter suspended construction in the settlements. They explained that the reconciliation with Hamas did not conflict with the negotiations with Israel, but only strengthened them, because these negotiations were under the authority of the PLO, rather than the PA. President Mahmoud 'Abbas said in a meeting with consuls in Ramallah that the reconciliation would promote opportunities for peace by uniting the efforts in this domain.[57] In a meeting with an Israeli delegation, he reiterated that diplomatic issues would be handled by the PLO and its president, not by the government of technocrats, whose responsibilities would be limited to preparing the elections and rebuilding Gaza.[58]

Statements made by Khaled Mash'al at the May 4 reconciliation ceremony in Cairo were interpreted to mean that Hamas was granting the PLO a one-year extension for the negotiations with Israel while expressing profound pessimism regarding their outcome and calling to formulate an alternative strategy vis-à-vis Israel. Mash'al said: "I hereby address the new Egyptian leadership in this new revolutionary era, saying: We have given peace [a chance] for 20 years, from the Madrid [Conference] until today. We are willing to reach an agreement among the Palestinians, in an Arab framework and with [Arab] support, in order to give [the negotiations] another chance, in an agreed-upon manner. But, my brothers, since Israel does not respect us, since it opposes all our initiatives and insists on rejecting the Palestinians' rights and [on rebuffing] all Palestinians, [whether from] Fatah or Hamas, and since it wants the land and wants security, claiming falsely that it wants peace, [we must find an alternative.] Egypt, as a leading country, as well as the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, must turn over a new leaf and look for a different strategy. We do not want to declare war on anyone. We [only] want to claim our right and formulate a new strategy using any tool and any powerful means that can compel Netanyahu to withdraw from our land and recognize our rights. And we will call upon the international community to stand by us."[59]

Al-Hayat quoted Mash'al as saying at a press conference: "In 20 years of negotiations, [including] the Oslo [Accords], the Israel-Jordan peace agreement, and the Annapolis [Conference], we never managed to get anywhere. How long will we continue spinning our wheels? Unless we change our opening position, the results will not change. We are willing to give it one more year, for the sake of Egypt and the Palestinian reconciliation. Then we will come up with a new strategy."[60]

Mash'al clarified his position in an interview with Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: "We have been probing Israel's intentions for 20 years, and today, for the sake of Egypt and the reconciliation agreement, we are giving Israel another chance. However, we must already [begin to] formulate a new strategy. This, not in order to declare war on Israel – after all, between war and submission there is considerable leeway – but in order to add some powerful [tools] of pressure [that can be used] during this interim period, so as to promote the Palestinian rights through diverse means, including resistance, popular action, action against the separation fence, diplomatic action, [various other means of] hounding Israel everywhere, and, on the economic level, the weapon of boycott. We have a golden opportunity to hound Israel, which is hostile to peace. That is [what I meant] when I said there was a need to propose a [new] plan of action that will be prepared in the Arab and Palestinian political kitchen, some [aspects] of which we will declare [openly] and some [aspects] of which we will conceal, depending on what serves the peace process."[61]

Mash'al's statements about giving the PLO one more year for diplomatic moves vis-à-vis Israel sparked intense controversy within Hamas. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar criticized them harshly, saying that the movement had not changed its position about negotiations with Israel and still supported resistance as the only option. In an interview with the Palestinian daily Al-Quds, he said: "Some claim we are giving Abu Mazen another chance to negotiate [with Israel]. We have not given him [another] chance. We have not agreed to negotiations, nor have we encouraged him to [negotiate]. On the contrary, we have constantly put him on the spot about the negotiations. What happened on the day of the reconciliation celebrations [i.e., Mash'al's statements at the reconciliation ceremony] was not with our consent and we had no [prior] knowledge of it. I think that these statements do not represent the position of Hamas, whose program is based on resistance rather than negotiations... The world should know that the [Hamas] movement has not changed its position that resistance is the only option."[62] Al-Zahhar made similar statements in an interview with the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar. [63] Moussa Abu Marzouq likewise spoke against negotiations: "We were against the dialogue and the negotiations that the PLO launched with Israel from the very beginning. Would I do something that I have condemned others for doing? In our opinion, this issue is not a [pointless] political quarrel but an essential Palestinian interest, because it is impossible to have a dialogue between an occupier and an occupied people when the balance of power is as it is, and when the occupier is holding so many of the cards. It is impossible to conduct a dialogue when your enemy refuses to recognize you and to restore the rights he has stolen from you... As long as this hasn't happened, [negotiations] are considered a kind of capitulation [that we accept] even before it has actually occurred."[64]

Other Hamas members defended Mash'al and attacked Al-Zahhar. Poltical Bureau member 'Izzat Al-Rishq and foreign liaisons chief Osama Hamdan said that it was Al-Zahhar's statements (rather than Mash'al's) that did not reflect the movement's position and contravened its procedures and policy, because only Mash'al and other Poltical Bureau members were authorized to speak on the movement's behalf. [65]

Hamas official Salah Al-Bardawil tried to downplay the conflict, saying that there was no contradiction between Mash'al's statements and Al-Zahhar's. Mash'al, he said, had merely promised that in the coming months Hamas would not interfere with the PLO's efforts to realize the Palestinian goals; however, Mash'al had been speaking hypothetically, since Hamas does not believe in the efficacy of negotiations.[66]

The Security Level: Upholding the Right to Resistance While Maintaining Tahdiya, Security Coordination

On the security level, Fatah and Hamas have agreed to maintain the status quo until the elections in a year; that is, Hamas will continue to maintain the tahdiya vis-à-vis Israel, and the existing security apparatuses in the West Bank and Gaza will remain as they are.[67] Only after the elections will the security apparatuses be unified and a joint security policy be formulated. This decision is presumably meant to buy peace and quiet on the security front, so as to facilitate the diplomatic moves towards the announcement of a state in September. Isma'il Haniya said in a Gaza speech: "It has been decided to maintain the security status quo in each region [i.e., in the West Bank and Gaza]. Matters of mutual interest will be discussed at a later time."[68] Mahmoud Al-Zahhar likewise told the Lebanese Al-Akhbar daily that "the security apparatuses in the West Bank and Gaza will remain as they are for a year."[69] 'Azzam Al-Ahmad told the UAE daily Al-Bayan that "the issue of security will be resolved only after the elections."[70] The following is a review of the understandings reached by the two sides in the domain of security:

Resistance against Israel

The National Accord Agreement (which is presumably the document that was signed) states that both parties endorse the Palestinian people's right to resistance: "The security apparatuses will respect the Palestinian people's right to resist and to defend the homeland and its residents."[71]

Immediately following the announcement of the impending agreement, on April 28, 2011, PA officials hurried to reassure Israel and the West regarding the security issue. They stressed that understandings have been reached regarding the need to restrain the resistance, i.e., to maintain the tahdiya (it should be noted that Fatah has been claiming for years that Hamas relinquished the path of resistance when it decided to uphold the tahdiya). Fatah official 'Azzam Al-Ahmad said that the sides have agreed to wage "positive resistance."[72] At the reconciliation ceremony, 'Abbas said: "We oppose violence and firmly condemn terrorism of any kind. We emphasize that we will not tolerate the existence of security apparatuses belonging to several [different] elements. There will be one gun, one [Palestinian] Authority, one law and one source of authority…"[73] 'Abbas's poltical advisor, Nimr Hammad, said that the PA would not allow the existence of armed militias and organizations that would set up rocket launchers in civilians' homes.[74]

Egyptian businessman Mounib Al-Masri, considered to be one of the architects of the reconciliation, who was recently mentioned by Hamas as a possible agreed-upon candidate for the role of prime minister, said that Hamas had taken an "unprecedented" decision to refrain from firing rockets at Israel and to maintain the tahdiya. In an interview with Al-Hayat he explained: "It has been agreed with Hamas to emphasize the Palestinians' right to resist the occupation by all means recognized by the humane international law. The ways to exercise this right will be agreed upon [later], according to the Palestinian interest and in the framework of a supreme source of authority [in charge of directing] the resistance... As for all [issues] pertaining to weapons and rockets – we will find the right formula [for handling] these issues, for one cannot fire rockets and other weapons as part of the resistance when there is a clear agreement that the government [to be established] must comply with the [international] law and the U.N. Charter." He added: "The commitment to refrain from firing rockets and [to maintain] the tahdiya means that Israel too is obligated to [maintain] the tahdiya. For it is inconceivable that we should agree to refrain from firing rockets and to halt the operations [against Israel], while Israel [continues to] invade Gaza and fire missiles at [members of] the Palestinian organizations."[75]

Hamas officials admitted that they had agreed in principle to "conduct the resistance in a way that would preserve the reconciliation," as Khaled Mash'al put it.[76] At the same time, they clarified that the ways of waging resistance would be deliberated at a later stage by the interim leadership, which will deal with political matters, including the management of the struggle against the occupation.[77] In an interview for the Al-Aqsa channel, Mash'al added: "We uphold the resistance in all its forms. [However,] for the sake of the reconciliation and in order to strengthen our unity, we are willing to agree on procedures for taking decisions regarding the resistance, just as there is a need to reach agreements regarding the way to take decisions on the political and security level."[78]

Hamas stressed in an apologetic vein that there was no contraction between maintaining the tahdiya and upholding the right of resistance. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar told the Palestinian news agency Maan that the tahdiya did not contravene the program of resistance against Israel, but was part of this program. He clarified: "The hudna [i.e., tahdiya] does not mean opting for peace."[79]

Security Coordination with Israel

The issue of security coordination remains in dispute between the two sides. The PA security apparatuses have continued their security coordination with Israel without making any change to their policy since the signing of the agreement.[80] Fatah members explained to the Hamas website that the coordination with Israel was crucial, especially in order to ensure the even flow of civilian life, such as movement of people and goods between the Palestinian territories and Israel.[81]

Senior officials in Hamas stressed that they opposed the security coordination, and that this issue, like the resistance issue, had not been thoroughly discussed in the recent round of talks, but would be discussed by the supreme security council to be established. Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said to Al-Jazeera: "The issue [of security coordination] did not come up in the negotiations… It is an important issue, [which] is to be discussed in the government and also [in dialogue between] Fatah, Hamas and the other Palestinian factions. What is the point of security coordination between the [Palestinian] security apparatuses and the Israeli enemy? What are the components of the security coordination? It is two-sided or one-sided? If it is one-sided, then it is a crime – [and] the truth is that it is [indeed] one-sided. We have never heard that the Israeli side informed the Palestinians [in advance] about its intention to launch the war against Gaza, or about its intention to invade the West Bank in order to carry out an assassination… The next government will have to determine its position on this issue, and this government will be established with the consent of Hamas and the [other] Palestinian factions. [Is it conceivable that] we will require this government to carry out security coordination with Israel?!..."[82] On another occasion Al-Zahhar said: "It is impossible to combine the program of resistance with coordination with Israel. We will not allow the Preventive Security officers and commanders to resume [their work], and I publicly advise them to stay out of Gaza and the West Bank, for their own good."[83] Isma'il Haniya said: "[Under] the national accord government, the Palestinian security apparatuses will have to refrain from [maintaining] security coordination with the occupation."[84]

At the same time, according to some Hamas members, Hamas acknowledges the need to continue the security coordination with Israel until next years' elections. Moussa Abu Marzouq explained to the daily Al-Hayat: "The issue [of security coordination] has many components. We are still a people under occupation, and there are constraints and matters that cannot be ignored or avoided."[85]

Unifying the Security Apparatuses

The sides have decided to form a supreme security council made up of expert officers who will work under Arab and Egyptian supervision. This council will work to build up and unify the security apparatuses in the West Bank and Gaza after the elections.[86] According to Hamas officials, Fatah has agreed to leave the Hamas security apparatuses in Gaza as they are, until their unification with the PA apparatuses.[87] Mahmoud Al-Zahhar said on this issue: "The security apparatuses in the West Bank and Gaza will stay as they are for a year. The [new] interior minister will coordinate them, [and] a supreme security council will be established to coordinate these issues."[88]

Release of Political Prisoners

The Egyptian agreement stipulates that, after the signing, both sides will release Poltical prisoners. This issue, which has yet to be realized, may be an obstacle to the implementation of the agreement. The prisoners have not been freed, and, what's more, Fatah is still arresting members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Hamas official Rafat Nassif even called to suspend contacts with Fatah until it stops the arrests and summons for questioning.[89] Mahmoud 'Abbas, for his part, said that the PA would continue to arrest individuals suspected of smuggling arms and explosives or of laundering money, but would not arrest people for poltical reasons or for expressing opinions.[90]

Skepticism about the Agreement's Success in Light of the Differences between the Sides

In light of the profound ideological differences between the two movements and the bitterness engendered by years of hostility, and considering that many issues have not been resolved but rather put aside for later, the agreement seems likely to fail in the long term, just like previous agreements between Fatah and Hamas, such as the 2005 Cairo Agreement and the 2007 Mecca Accord.

Palestinian officials have acknowledged these difficulties. PLO chief negotiator Saeb 'Ereqat said: "The way [will be] long and difficult, but failure must not be one of our options."[91] Fatah Revolutionary Committee member Sufyan Abu Zaida said: "The truth is that the task is not easy and there will be difficulties, because there are families whose sons have been killed [in clashes between Fatah and Hamas] and the social fabric has been badly damaged... The only reward that will make all the sacrifices and anguish worthwhile is Palestinian unity, the healing of the social fabric, and the completion of the reconciliation [process]."[92]

The Palestinian daily Al-Quds stated in an editorial titled "The Reconciliation Agreement Must Be Implemented, Not Just Signed": "Everyone remembers the Mecca Accord, praised by the Palestinian people and the Arab nation, which formed the basis for the establishment of a Palestinian unity government in 2007. Sponsored by [Saudi] King 'Abdallah bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz, it was signed near the holy Kaaba and the holy house of Allah. Nevertheless, the agreement and the Palestinian unity government lasted only a few months, until [they both] collapsed under the burden of the Hamas [takeover] of Gaza in June of that year... There are several internal obstacles, primarily the different security outlook of Gaza [i.e., Hamas] and the West Bank [i.e., the PA], which make it difficult to reunify the security apparatuses in both parts of the homeland."[93]

Hani Al-Masri wrote: "There are several serious flaws in the agreement that must be fixed in order to ensure its realization... The most deadly flaw is the absence of the diplomatic aspect... In political life, there is no such thing as a government without a diplomatic plan. The essence of every government is its diplomatic activity, even if it is a government of independents or experts."[94]

Skepticism was also expressed on the Hamas website: "Many landmines and obstacles are expected [to be found] on the way to reconciliation. The most serious [difficulty is working out] the precise details of the general agreement, and another is the ultimate implementation [of the agreement] on the ground. Though the signed agreement contains several [clauses] pertaining to the government, to security, to the PLO, and to the elections, these issues still require extensive deliberation."[95]

* Y. Yehoshua is Director of Research at MEMRI


[1], May 26, 2011.

[2] Islamic Jihad leader in Lebanon Abu Samer Moussa expressed puzzlement about this, demanding that the understandings be revealed and that all the "hidden documents" be exposed., May 14, 2011.

[3] Al-Ayyam (PA), April 30, 2011; Al-Akhbar (Egypt),, April 29, 2011. The chief points of the understandings document were drafted during discussions held in Damascus in late September 2009 and in Gaza in April 2010, and also on the basis of 'Abbas's March 16, 2011 initiative for the establishment of a government of independent experts that will work toward holding elections to the presidency, the PLC and the PNC.

[4] The mediation document omits some points that the PA may be interested in concealing. For example, it does not mention the Palestinian people's right to resistance, whereas the National Accord Agreement does mention this.

[5], March 27, 2010; Al-Hayat (London), October 26, 2010.

[6] Al-Hayat (London), April 28, 2011. On the National Accord Agreement, see Inquiry and Analysis No. 566, "Egypt's Palestinian Reconciliation Document," November 23, 2009, Egypt's Palestinian Reconciliation Document.

[7] The daily Al-Ayyam mentioned the existence of this document but did not publish it.

[8] See statements by 'Azzam Al-Ahmad in Al-Quds (Jerusalem), May 4, 2011.

[9] Islamic Jihad leader in Lebanon Abu Samer Moussa said that "the reconciliation is between two [movements] only, and is not a national reconciliation.", May 14, 2011. The Al-Quds Al-Arabi daily likewise noted the bilateral character of the agreement, stressing that the other factions have not signed an agreement that mentions a tahdiya with Israel in the West Bank and Gaza. The Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), May 3, 2011.

[10] Al-Hayat (London), May 4, 2011.

[11] Kul Al-Arab (Israel), May 6, 2011. In an interview on Al-Jazeera TV, Mash'al said: "I was [willing to] forgo sitting beside 'Abbas [at the ceremony] in order to avoid jeopardizing the [Palestinian] reconciliation, though 'Abbas was unreasonable in refusing to have me sit beside him. We are willing to pay a price for the sake of the people., May 8, 2011

[12] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), May 5, 2011.

[13] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), may 5, 2011.

[14] Al-Ayyam (PA), May 5, 2011. PA chief negotiator Saeb 'Ereqat called the demand to choose between Hamas and Israel "political insolence," adding: "Hamas is a Palestinian movement, and cannot be equated with the occupation." Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), May 2, 2011. Columnist 'Adli Sadeq wrote in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida: "Hamas is not a terrorist [organization], the occupation is terrorist. Despite everything Hamas is doing in the internal arena, the [proper] response to the racist position [of the Israeli government] vis-à-vis the PA, which is undermining the very foundations of the peace process, is to withdraw the recognition of Israel, firmly and immediately." Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), May 1, 2011.

[15] Al-Ayyam (PA), April 28, 2011.

[16] Kul Al-Arab (Israel), April 29, 2011.

[17] Kul Al-Arab (Israel), April 29, 2011.

[18], April 28, 2011.

[19] Al-Ayyam (PA), April 29, 2011.

[20], April 26, 2011.

[21] Kul Al-Arab (Israel), April 29, 2011.

[22], May 2, 2011.

[23] See Moussa Abu Marzouq's statements to the London daily Al-Hayat (May 1, 2011).

[24], April 27, 2011.

[25], April 28, 2011.

[26] Al-Ayyam (PA), April 28, 2011.

[27] Addressing the right of return at the reconciliation ceremony, 'Abbas called to "resolve the refugee problem according to the U.N. resolutions, in particular Resolution 194, and based on the Arab peace initiative..." In response to a call from the audience to address the refugee problem, he replied that he had just addressed it, and added: "I am a refugee myself." Al-Ayyam (PA), May 5, 2011.

[28], May 5, 2011.

[29] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 9, 2011.

[30], May 4, 2011.

[31], May 11, 2011.

[32] Al-Rai (Kuwait), June 20, 2011.

[33] Al-Risala (Gaza), May 9, 2011.

[34] Al-Imarat Al-Yawm (UAE), May 23, 2011.

[35] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), May 4, 2011.

[36] See statements by 'Azzam Al-Ahmad in Al-Bayan (UAE), May 15, 2011.

[37] Al-Ayyam (PA), April 28, 2011.

[38] Al-Hayat (London), May 1, 2011.

[39] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), April 28, 2011.

[40], April 29, 2011.

[41] Al-Jazeera TV (Qatar), April 28, 2011.

[42] Al-Ayyam (PA), May 4, 2011.

[43] Al-Ayyam (PA), May 4, 2011.

[44], May 1, 2011.

[45] Al-Hayat (London), May 12, 2011.

[46], May 11, 2011.

[47] In 2009, Hamas senior official Salah Al-Bardawil explained that "the PLO [no longer] constitutes a Palestinian source of authority, because many factions are not represented in it. Hence, Hamas is proposing [to establish] a body that will not replace the PLO but will function as a temporary source of authority and will take decisions until the reforms in the PLO are completed. Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), March 28, 2009. See also Moussa Abu Marzouq's statements to Hamas's Al-Aqsa channel., October 22, 2009.

[48] Al-Ayyam (PA), March 23, 2011.

[49] Al-Ayyam (PA), October 14, 2009.

[50] Al-Ayyam (PA), April 30, 2011; Al-Akhbar (Egypt), April 29, 2011.

[51] Al-Bayan (UAE), May 15, 2011.

[52], May 16, 2011.

[53] Al-Ayyam (PA), May 10, 2011.

[54] Al-Jazeera TV (Qatar), April 27, 2011.

[55] Al-Hayat (London), May 9, 2011.

[56], April 28, 2011.

[57], April 28,29, 2011.

[58] Al-Ayyam (PA), April 29, 2011;, April 28, 2011.

[59] Al-Jazeera TV (Qatar) May 4, 2011.

[60] Al-Hayat (London), May 9, 2011.

[61] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 9, 2011.

[62] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), May 17, 2011. It should be noted that, one month earlier, Al-Zahhar spoke in a less radical vein, saying, "Hamas [represents] the position of the entire Palestinian people, which sees no point in the negotiations launched in 1991... The occupation did not leave Gaza thanks to the negotiations, but thanks to the resistance. If Fatah wants to continue the negotiations, that is its own position." Al-Khabar (Algeria), April 29, 2011.

[63] In the Al-Akhbar interview, he said: "We were not aware of Khaled Mash'al's position. He did not consult with anyone on this matter. This position is wrong. We never gave Fatah a chance or a mandate to negotiate on our behalf or on behalf of the Palestinian people. Our program objects to this kind of negotiation, because it is a waste of time, as our practical experience has proven [time and again] since the Madrid Conference 20 years ago. We are always hearing 'negotiations, negotiations, negotiations.' The disgraceful deeds of the [PLO] negotiation team, and its head Saeb Ereqat, are known to all. Whoever says we have given [the PLO] a mandate, or that we will give them a mandate [to negotiate] – does not represent the movement." Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), May 24, 2011.

[64] Al-Rai (Kuwait), June 20, 2011.

[65] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), May 25, 2011;, May 24, 2011.

[66], May 19, 2011.

[67] Al-Ahram (Egypt),, May 3, 2011. See also statements by Hamas Political Bureau member 'Izzat Al-Rishq to the Gazan daily Al-Risala (May 4, 2011).

[68], May 5, 2011.

[69] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), May 24, 2011.

[70] Al-Bayan (UAE), May 15, 2011.

[71] Al-Ayyam (PA), October 14, 2009. A recognition of the right to resistance also appeared in several previous agreements, such as the 2005 Cairo Agreement, as well as the 2006 Prisoners' Document, which stated that resistance by all possible means is legitimate in the 1967 territories. It should be note that the Fatah Sixth General Conference, which convened in August 2009, endorsed peace as a strategic option, while at the same time upholding the Palestinian people's right to wage armed resistance. See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 541, "Fatah Sixth General Conference Resolutions: Pursuing Peace Option Without Relinquishing Resistance or Right to Armed Struggle," August 16, 2009, Fatah Sixth General Conference Resolutions: Pursuing Peace Option Without Relinquishing Resistance or Right to Armed Struggle.

[72] Al-Bayan (UAE), May 15, 2011. Egyptian businessman Mounib Al-Masri described it as "moral resistance." Al-Hayat (London), May 13, 2011.

[73] Al-Ayyam (PA), May 5, 2011.

[74], April 28, 2011.

[75] Al-Hayat (London), May 13, 2011.

[76] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 9, 2011.

[77] See statements by Hamas representative in Lebanon 'Ali Baraka, who said that the recent round of talks did not address the resistance at all. This matter, he said, will be handled by the interim leadership, which will manage the conflict with Israel and the diplomatic process until the PLO is rebuilt and reactivated. Al-Ghad (Jordan), April 28, 2011.

[78], May 10, 2011. Hamas Prime Minister Isma'il Haniya likewise mentioned the need to agree on the methods of conducting the resistance. Al-Ayyam (PA), May 6, 2011.

[79], May 11, 2011.

[80] One of the clauses in the National Accord Agreement, which both movements have reportedly signed, can be regarded as implicitly recognizing the need for security coordination with Israel. It states that one of the functions of the "General Intelligence apparatus" will be "coordination with the equivalent apparatuses of friendly countries in combating any activity threatening the mutual security and peace, and [in handling] all domestic affairs, as long as the relationship is mutual." In the past, Hamas expressed reservations about this clause on the grounds that it recognizes the security coordination with Israel. Al-Quds (Jerusalem), October 19, 2009.

[81] Fatah Central Committee member 'Abbas Zaki said that continuing the coordination was essential in order to meet the everyday needs of the citizens, but that it was possible to delegate it to officers of a lower rank. PLC member Muhammad Hijazi explained that the coordination was not security coordination meant to ensure Israel's safety, but civilian coordination meant to facilitate the movement of people and goods between the Palestinian territories and Israel., May 1, 2011.

[82] Al-Jazeera Mubashir TV, April 28, 2011.

[83] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), May 24, 2011.

[84] Al-Ayyam (PA), May 6, 2011.

[85] Al-Hayat (London), May 1, 2011.

[86] The daily Al-Ahram reported that Egypt plans to send a team of military officers to Gaza, who will assist in unifying the Fatah and Hamas security apparatuses and in the establishment of a professional security apparatus subordinate to the PLC. Al-Ahram English edition (Egypt), April 28, 2011.

[87] Al-Hayat (London), May 4, 2011.

[88] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), May 24, 2011.

[89], May 21, 2011. See also statements by an Islamic Jihad official to the Hamas website on May 18, 2011. Fatah senior official Hussam Khader said that the ongoing arrests in the West Bank constituted a violation of the reconciliation agreement, holding Mahmoud 'Abbas responsible for this violation., May 18, 2011.

[90] WAFA (PA), June 20, 2011.

[91] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), May 6, 2011.

[92], April 30, 2011.

[93] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), May 4, 2011. In an article in the PA daily Al-Ayyam, columnist Muhannad 'Abd Al-Hamid wondered whether Hamas had learned a lesson from its failures in governing Gaza and was ready to join a new government. Detailing his criticism against Hamas, he pointed out that it had staged a military coup in Gaza and that its rule was undemocratic; that, despite seizing power, it continued to behave like an opposition and brought the siege upon Gaza; that it's attitude towards Fatah casts doubt on its acceptance of political, cultural and religious pluralism; and that it is subordinate to regional powers pursuing their own agendas, such as Syria and Iran. Al-Ayyam (PA), May 3, 2011.

[94], May 3, 2011.

[95], May 2, 2011.

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