Hamas calls for Palestinian reconciliation

While this is obviously a good idea in terms of strengthening the Palestinians hand in dealing with Israel reconciliation will be difficult. The Abbas group's links to Israel contrasts with the struggle of Hamas and other groups. The US and Israel will do everything possible to isolate Hamas and prevent any coalition govt. or reconciliation.
It is interesting that the West and Israel are supporting a Palestinian authority that lost an election and isolating the democratically elected Hamas. Of course it will be claimed that Hamas seized power in Gaza but it seems that was to avoid a planned coup by Fatah supported by the west. Given that the international community insists on giving aid to Fatah and not to Hamas it is hard to see how the aid is going to get to where it is needed unless Fatah and Hamas work out some modus vivendi. This could be the beginning of reconciliation if both groups are willing to work in the interest of Palestinians as a whole instead of their own agendas.

Hamas calls for Palestinian reconciliation
By ALBERT AJI – 1 hour ago
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Hamas called Thursday for reconciliation with supporters of rival Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas but insisted on pursuing "resistance" against Israel.
The condition appeared to preclude any agreement with Abbas, who seeks a peace deal with Israel and whose moderate Fatah faction was not among the groups that backed the statement by Hamas and seven other Damascus-based radical Palestinian factions.
The call came days after Israel ended a devastating 23-day war with the Islamic militant rulers of Gaza that Palestinian officials say killed about 1,300 people in the territory.
Hamas seized control of Gaza from Fatah by force in 2007 and Fatah set up a rival Palestinian government in the West Bank. It has been conducting peace talks with Israel for more than a year.
The eight factions said they will reject any political reconciliation deals that hinder the "continuity of the resistance" against Israel, a condition Fatah is sure to reject.
Israel had no immediate comment.
The U.S. and Israel consider Hamas a terrorist group. It is sworn to Israel's destruction, a stance that has brought international efforts to isolate Gaza under its rule.
Abbas' prime minister, Salam Fayyad, made an urgent plea for reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, saying the alternative is a permanent rift that will destroy Palestinians' dreams for a state of their own.
"The world would like to help us but everyone says that we should have a national unity government," he said after meeting with donor country representatives in his West Bank office Thursday.
But Hamas leaders have been cool to suggestions of power-sharing with Fatah after the war.
While they were calling for national reconciliation, senior Hamas officials also insisted Thursday that Hamas have sole control over all international donations to rebuild Gaza, saying Fatah cannot be trusted to handle the aid.
"We have a legitimate government in Gaza that came through a democratic choice, and it is working on the streets, and it is a legitimate body to receive the aid and to rebuild Gaza," Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas official in Gaza, told The Associated Press.
But President Barack Obama said Abbas' Palestinian Authority should control the aid.
"The United States will fully support an international donor's conference to seek short-term humanitarian assistance and long-term reconstruction for the Palestinian economy," Obama said at the State Department. "This assistance will be provided to and guided by the Palestinian Authority."
A Hamas spokesman criticized Obama's position toward the militant group.
"Obama is still on the same path as previous leaders and also will make the same mistakes as Bush that ignited the region instead of bringing stability," said Osama Hamdan, a Hamas official in Beirut, Lebanon.
Hamdan told Al-Jazeera television that Obama will meet failure in the region if he sticks with his current position. "Obama is insisting on not bringing any change even though his campaign slogan promised to bring change," Hamdan said.
Earlier, Sami Khater, a member of the Damascus-based Hamas political leadership-in-exile, said Arab and international donations to aid Gaza should go directly to Hamas and be distributed through an independent Arab body that must supervise reconstruction.
"Frankly, the funds shouldn't go to the Palestinian Authority because, according to previous experience, this authority cannot be trusted," Khater told the AP.
Control over reconstruction funds would put huge sums of aid money expected to flood in from abroad at Hamas' fingertips and could also give the group a measure of international recognition.
Saudi Arabia alone has pledged $1 billion for Gaza's reconstruction, and the international community has promised massive help.
Israel launched its devastating air and ground assault on Dec. 27 to try to halt rocket fire from Gaza. Both sides ceased fire on Sunday.
For Gaza's reconstruction to begin, blockaded border crossings will have to be opened to allow supplies and aid in. But that remains a thorny issue.
Israel and Egypt have kept the crossings largely closed since Hamas seized power over Gaza in June 2007, choking off most supplies to the tiny seaside territory and trapping most of its 1.4 million people inside. Hamas says the borders must be opened as part of any long-term cease-fire deal.
Some sort of reconciliation between the rival Palestinian factions could be key to a workable plan for setting up border controls to stop weapons smuggling to Hamas through the Gaza-Egypt border, a key Israeli demand.
Egypt has said it will only open its border with Gaza if Abbas' Palestinian Authority forces take up positions there, in line with a 2005 agreement.
Hamas has long demanded control over the crossing with Egypt.
Associated Press writer Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, West Bank, contributed to this report.


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