In the wake of last week’s reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah, Hamas deputy political leader Saleh al-Arouri said the agreement was reached so that the Palestinians can oppose Israel together.
Hamas has been in control of the Gaza Strip since 2007 when it violently wrested power from the Fatah party headed by Mahmoud Abbas. Under a new reconciliation agreement signed in Cairo last week Fatah will again take charge of the Strip, starting on Dec. 1.
Speaking at the talks in Cairo, Azzam al-Ahmad, head of the Fatah delegation, told reporters his instructions from Abbas were to reach agreement with Hamas so that the strength of the Palestinian people could be unified and “headed by Fatah and Hamas.”
Backed by the U.S., Russia, the United Nations and the European Union (the Middle East Quartet), Israel’s position has been to oppose any unity government led by Fatah and Hamas unless Hamas renounces terrorism, accepts Israel’s right to exist and accepts previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
It has been reported — without official confirmation — that under the new agreement Hamas will not disarm, but will not use its weaponry without the approval of a joint panel.
What has been confirmed, however, is Arouri’s statement that the new agreement was reached, “so that we can all work together against the Zionist enterprise [Israel], which seeks to wipe out and trample the rights of our people.”
According to Israeli media reports, Israeli officials are concerned that terror attacks against Israel may increase as a result of this agreement as Fatah may give Hamas greater freedom to operate in the West Bank.