DAMASCUS, SYRIA (11:30) – The Ezzedeen al-Qassem Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, is not up for discussion during upcoming rapprochement negotiations between Hamas and Fatah. This was said by Hamas spokesman Hazzem Qassem in a statement to Palestinian news agency Ma’an on Saturday.
“The resistance’s weapons are legal. They are here to protect Palestinians and free their lands (from Israeli occupation) — therefore, this should not be an issue to discuss,” Qassem stated.
The spokesman continued to state that what he believed should be up for debate is the “enhancement” of Hamas’ power and all the subjects that are “obstructing the reconciliation” between Hamas and Fatah.
Palestinian political organisations such as Fatah, Hamas and the PFLP generally have armed wings that often have extensive leeway to operate semi-autonomously in order to defend the Palestinian territories and members of its organisations.
Hamas, an Islamist political organisation currently in power in the Gaza Strip, is scheduled to meet with rival political party Fatah in the Egyptian capital of Cairo later this week, marking the first round of talks between the two since 2014.
The two parties have been at odds ever since Hamas scored a landslide victory in the Palestinian legislative elections of 2006. Conflict arose in the wake of the elections and ultimately ended with Hamas setting up office in the Gaza Strip, while Fatah kept governing the West Bank.
Last month, Hamas announced its decision to agree to dissolving its administrative committee in Gaza in exchange for Fatah’s agreement to hold new elections in both the Strip and the West Bank alike. Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah subsequently chaired a Fatah cabinet meeting in the Gaza Strip on October 3.
“We are here to turn the page on division, restore the national project to its correct direction and establish the (Palestinian) state,” Hamdallah told the meeting.
Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh, who originally led Hamas to electoral victory in 2006 but only recently regained political control over the organisation, expressed faith in the process, stating “There might be some difficulties on the road, but we will conclude reconciliation, regardless of the cost.”
The rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah might mark a milestone in the Palestinian process, and has already enraged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who stressed that he would not accept what he calls an “imaginary appeasement where the Palestinian side is reconciling at the expense of our existence.”