Hamas twists and turns over unity

February 16, 2012

Hamas appears to be split over the unity deal it signed with Fatah and the movement's relationship with Iran.

According to the deal signed two weeks ago in Qatar by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the head of Hamas's political bureau Khaled Mashal, the two movements will form a joint government of technocrats with Mr Abbas as prime minister. The agreement also stated that elections would be held in the West Bank and Gaza.

The deal has been met with derision in Hamas strongholds in Gaza, where it was seen as capitulation to Fatah. "We will not accept Abbas as prime minister," said senior Hamas leader in Gaza, Mahmoud Al-Zahar.

However, on Wednesday, Mashal and Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh confirmed the unity deal in a statement from Doha. It read: "There are no differences within the movement regarding reconciliation. The Doha announcement is moving toward implementation."

This came despite the apparently divergent paths that the two leaders have taken in recent weeks. Mashal has been trying to align Hamas with Egypt, push forward unity with Fatah and end the "armed struggle". But Haniyeh made a recent visit to Tehran, meeting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Last updated: 1:36pm, February 16 2012