Hamas-Fatah deal ‘to be delayed’


Date published: Sunday 11th October 2009

Source: Al Jazeera English

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Egypt’s foreign minister has said that a unity deal between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah could be delayed until November.

Ahmed Abul Gheit said on Sunday that a senior Hamas delegation had asked Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s intelligence chief, for postponement of the deal scheduled to be signed on October 25.

The request followed heightened tensions between Hamas and Fatah over a UN-sponsored report on war crimes committed during Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip last winter.

The report authored by Richard Goldstone heavily criticised Isreal for “terrorising and targeting” civilians between last December and January.

Hamas also came in for criticism in the 575-page report.

About 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed during the conflict.

Hamas, the group which runs the Gaza Strip, has castigated Mahmoud Abbas, leader of Fatah and the president of the Palestinian Authority which rules the occupied West Bank, over the delay in endorsing Goldstone’s report at the UN Human Rights Council.

Endorsement of the report could have facilitated the eventual prosecution of Israeli officials responsible for the atrocities.

Hamas said that the decision “betrayed” the Palestinian victims of the offensive.

The long-delayed Palestinian deal would allow for co-operation in reconstruction of the Gaza Strip that was heavily bombarded in the offensive and prepare for elections in the first six months of 2010.

Tensions between Hamas and Fatah have been high since the former won parliamentary polls in January 2006 and then expelled pro-Fatah forces from Gaza in June 2007.

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