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News, March 2008


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Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.


Hamas and Fatah at odds over interpretation of Yemeni-brokered agreement

Hamas and Fatah at odds over interpretation of Yemeni-brokered agreement

Date: 24 / 03 / 2008  Time:  09:30
Bethlehem – Ma'an –

Hours after signing an agreement in Yemen on Sunday, the rival Hamas and Fatah movements began to argue over the meaning of that agreement.

The Palestinian presidency issued a statement arguing that the agreement called for implementation of certain demands, while Hamas viewed it merely as a pledge to begin dialogue, sources told Ma'an.

Meanwhile a dispute erupted within Fatah over the process that led to the signing of the declaration. Presidential aide Nimir Hammad accused Fatah's speaker in the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Azzam Al-Ahmad, in an interview with Al-Jazeera TV, of signing the document without consulting the president about the complete text.

Al-Ahmad dismissed Hammad's accusations: "It seems my brother Nimir does not know anything, and when I represent any side, I know the boundaries of my jurisdiction, and I was in contact with the president during negotiations in Yemen."

Al-Ahmad blamed certain personalities in both Hamas and Fatah for attempting to impede the agreement, reaffirming that he takes full responsibility for the agreement he signed on behalf of Fatah.

For its part, Hamas expressed astonishment at what the spokesperson of the Palestinian presidency Nabil Abu Rudaina said about the agreement in Yemen. Hamas said the agreement was a framework for dialogue rather than a plan ready for implementation.

"The Hamas movement fears that such declarations reflect lack of seriousness on the part of the Palestinian presidency, and that they signed the agreement for courtesy only," said Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas' spokesperson.

The Palestinian presidency released a statement saying, "Resumption of dialogue in the future must be based on the Yemeni initiative as a whole, rather than dealing with it as a framework for dialogue, which will lead nowhere."

Behind the scenes at Sana'a, bargaining and concessions on both sides

Date: 24 / 03 / 2008  Time:  09:52
Bethlehem – Ma'an –

Hamas acquiesced to pressure from the Yemeni president to hold early elections in Palestinian in exchange for a pledge from Fatah that the governments of both the West Bank and Gaza would be restructured, Hamas-affiliated sources told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.

Those are just some of the reported details of the intense negotiations that have emerged since the announcement that Hamas and Fatah signed a Yemeni-brokered agreement to resume talks aimed at restoring Palestinian unity.

Crucially, Al-Hayat reported, the term "Hamas coup against the Palestinian Authority (PA)," was removed, so that the document called for "resuming dialogue to restore the Palestinian situation as it was before the events in Gaza as part of maintaining national unity in the Palestinian territories."

Hamas officials told Al-Hayat that they want the West Bank-based caretaker government to be replaced by a national unity government. They are also calling for the cancellation of the presidential decrees that followed "the regrettable events in the Gaza Strip," referring to Hamas' military takeover of the Gaza Strip last June.

Hamas has demanded the release of Hamas detainees from the PA's prisons, and the reopening of Hamas-affiliated charities that were shut down by the PA.

Fateh reneges on Sana's deal; says no talks with Hamas

[ 24/03/2008 - 09:44 AM ]


Just few hours after it signed an agreement with Hamas Movement in the Yemeni capital Sana'a to open national dialogue and to patch up inter-Palestinian differences, Fatah faction reneged on that deal on Sunday, describing it as a "mistake".

Nemr Hammad, the political advisor of PA chief Mahmoud Abbas asserted that Fatah's envoy to Sana'a Azzam Al-Ahmad "committed a mistake by signing the deal without consulting Abbas about it".

Although he acknowledged that Al-Ahmad was authorized by the Fatah faction and the Ramallah-based PA leadership to negotiate and sign the agreement, Hammad alleged that the authority wasn’t an absolute one as he (Al-Ahmad) should have referred the matter to Abbas before inking the deal.

"The main purpose of sending that Fatah delegation to Sana'a was the Yemeni initiative. We accept the Yemeni initiative for implementation starting with the first item in it (bring back situation in Gaza to the condition prior to the June 14, 2007), and not as a frame work to open dialogue with Hamas as announced in the Sana'a declaration which was signed by Fatah and Hamas", Hammad asserted.

In an interview with the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite TV, Hammad alleged that such an agreement will push the PA leadership into endless mazes of US and regional pressures, which is, according to Hammad, "not in the interest of the Palestinian people and the Arab nation".

Inter-Fatah argument on air: Apparently fumed by Hammad criticism, Al-Ahmad defended his position, underlining, "I was authorized by Abbas to handle all tactical issues in order not to negotiate the Yemeni initiative, and that will happen as there will be no dialogue about it".

"He knows nothing (about the deal)", Al-Ahmad said as he reacted to Hammad's accusation that he (Al-Ahmad) wasn’t authorized to sign the deal.

"It seems that Nemr [Hammad] knows nothing.. I was in continuous contact with president Abbas today, yesterday, and the other day as I know the limitation of my authority and know the protocol of negotiation.. what is said yes in the name of Fatah will be completely adhered to, and we hope that the deal will be a prelude to resume the dialogue [with Hamas] so as to implement the articles of the agreement", added Al-Ahamd in response to Hammad's charges.

Moreover, Al-Ahmad accused certain parties in the PA leadership and Fatah faction of attempting to "sabotage" the agreement, saying, "There are people here and there who dislike the deal; yet we should block them [of doing so]".

Al-Ahmad also urged Fatah officials not to issue any statement about the deal till he returns to Ramallah, asserting that the real stand of Fatah was defamed by "irresponsible" statements issued here and there in allusion to the statements of Hammad and Nabil Abu Rudainah, the official spokesman of Abbas, who backed Hammad's remarks.

For its part, Hamas Movement welcomed the Yemeni initiative, saying it serves as a framework to start Palestinian national dialogue which Hamas had been repeatedly calling for long time ago.

Abu Marzouk after signing agreement: Yemeni initiative serves as dialog agenda

[ 23/03/2008 - 09:13 PM ]


Dr. Moussa Abu Marzouq, the deputy chairman of the Hamas political bureau, on Sunday announced that delegations of Hamas and Fatah have approved the Yemeni initiative in its capacity as the framework for resuming dialogue between them.

He told PIC in an exclusive statement in Sana'a that both agreed on the return of conditions in the Palestinian lands to the pre-Gaza events and on ascertaining the unity of Palestinian land, people and authority.

The Hamas leader explained that the Sana'a declaration, which was signed by both delegations, is based on resumption of dialogue with the Yemeni initiative as the agenda of that dialogue.

The Sana'a declaration also stipulates that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are one entity, Abu Marzouq said, adding that the declaration further asserts that only one authority committed to the basic bylaw and Palestinian norms would be founded.

He underlined that dialogue would start following an invitation by Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh to leaderships of both movements. He thanked the president and his foreign minister Abu Bakr Al-Kirbi for their efforts to restore Palestinian national unity.

The prominent Palestinian leader said that a number of Arab countries expressed readiness to patronize the agreement, noting that Saleh would carry the initiative to the Arab summit scheduled to be held in Damascus later this month for endorsement.

Abu Marzouq responding to a question said that the Palestinian people are the winners in this agreement, adding that ending the division and restoring national unity and internal cohesion is a popular demand and all should work towards realizing that demand.

For his part, Dr. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said that articles of the Yemeni initiative would serve as a framework for such dialogue and not pre-conditions. He said that the dialogue would cover overall Palestinian questions and not only the situation in Gaza.

The delegations of Fatah and Hamas had signed the Sana'a declaration on Sunday stipulating resumption of dialogue between them to heal the internal Palestinian rift with the seven points of the Yemeni initiative serving as the agenda for that dialogue.


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