Hamas committed to reconciliation with Fatah for Palestinian unity
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In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said he is committed to hammering out “operational methods” to implement a reconciliation pact between Hamas and Fatah.
Despite several failed attempts to achieve a rapprochement between the rival Palestinian powers, Meshaal said negotiations were ongoing.
“A meeting is scheduled soon between Hamas and Fatah,” said Meshaal. “It will follow the previous meetings with the ultimate aim of achieving high-level meetings between the leaders of Hamas and Fatah and with other parties to find operational methods to implement the reconciliation agreement.”
In April 2014, the secular nationalists of Fatah and the Islamists of Hamas reached a historic agreement to merge their rival administrations following years of negotiations.
The unity pact -- known as the Beach Camp Agreement after a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip – sought to patch up a rift following the 2006 Palestinian general elections, which saw Hamas emerge the clear winner.
The results of the elections were not endorsed by Israel or the international community, leaving the Palestinian territories divided between a Fatah-controlled West Bank and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Following the outbreak of the 2011 uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Hamas moved its operations from Damascus to the Qatari capital of Doha as the Islamist group with links to the Muslim Brotherhood sought to distance itself from the Syrian leader.
Knife attacks are ‘a new intifada’
Speaking to FRANCE 24 in Doha, Meshaal said the Palestinian people overwhelmingly supported unity in the face of continuous Israel aggression. “We suffer from the occupation, colonisation, and from Israeli aggression. It is Israel that is threatening Gaza with war from one moment to another. It continues the blockade on Gaza which is starving and killing the people.”
With the Syrian uprising dominating much of the world’s attention, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has slipped under the international radar. But Meshaal noted that a recent spate of Palestinian knife attacks against Israelis was “definitely a new intifada (uprising in Arabic)", following the first and second intifadas in 1987 and 2000 respectively.
Asked whether Hamas supported the killing of Israeli civilians, he replied: "It is wrong to frame the problem this way, because Hamas, the Palestinian movements and the Palestinian people are just defending themselves. It’s a defensive war, we are defending our sons, our children, our wives, our places of worship, our land."