Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Egypt and Hamas Clash Over Captive Israeli Soldier
Saleh al Naeimi
Gaza, Asharq Al-Awsat - An official Palestinian source has revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Egypt has reduced its efforts to push for a national dialogue between the Fatah and Hamas movements to a great extent. The source who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity said that the reason behind the retreat of the Egyptian role is Cairo's displeasure with the recent events in the Palestinian territories following the Gaza bombings and Egyptian officials' feeling that the Al-shujaiyah and subsequent incidents widened the chasm between the Fatah and Hamas movements and made the prospect of bridging their stands more difficult.
The source said that Egypt puts the greater part of the responsibility for these incidents on Hamas after it became convinced of the view that the Palestinian presidency conveyed to it. The source noted that many manifestations of the tension in the relations between Hamas and Egypt began to surface. In this respect, the source cited statements made by Musa Abu-Marzuq, deputy chief of the Hamas Movement Political Bureau, who asked Egypt to stand at the same distance from both the Fatah and Hamas, hinting that Cairo is biased towards Fatah.
The source pointed out that Hamas was angered by Egypt's refusal last week to allow a parliamentary delegation of the Hmams Movement deputies, led by the [Legislative] Council's Acting Speaker Ahmad Bahr, to pass through to visit a number of Arab and Islamic counties.
The source went on to say that there are deep differences between Hamas and Egypt regarding the case of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The source added that many within Hamas accuse Cairo of procrastination in the mediation with Israel and say that Cairo has not adopted the movement's conditions for the release of the soldier. The source noted that there are many calls within Hamas to take the Shalit case from Egypt and hand it over to a European mediator, and in particular the German mediator who mediated between Hezbollah and Israel. Meanwhile, Palestinian sources said that a number of Palestinian figures close to both Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and the Hamas are attempting to mediate between the two sides to defuse the crisis that broke out between the two parties. Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, the sources said these figures have prepared lists of the names of Fatah Movement detainees who are held by the Hamas security agencies and the names of Hamas detainees who are held by the Fatah Movement. The sources added that these personalities presented the lists to both Abu-Mazin [President Abbas] and deposed Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
The same sources said that these figures received promises from both Abu-Mazin and Haniyeh to positively consider the release of political detainees, except those involved in the bombings. Two days ago, the security agencies of the government of [PA Prime Minister] Salam Fayyad closed four charity societies and two shops in Hebron City in the southernmost part of the West Bank on the pretext that they are associated with Hamas. A Palestinian security source said the societies that were closed down were used by Hamas to collect money for itself and incite people against the PA. For its part, the Hamas said in a statement issued by its spokesman Fawzi Barhum that the closure of these charity societies in Hebron "confirms PA Chairman Mahmud Abbas's policy to continue to eliminate the Hamas Movement and pressure the Palestinian people." The movement added that these repressive acts are carried out "to prepare the climate for the Zionist-American projects."
Barhum said that these campaigns of closure and arrest, which are carried out by the PA in the occupied West Bank, "are part of efforts to make the Palestinian people kneel down, hunger them, and compel them to accept any insignificant solutions imposed by the US Administration and the Zionist entity."