A meeting between the party leadership of the now-ruling Hamas party and the minority Fateh late Wednesday night failed to bring together a common platform for the new Palestinian government.
After the surprise victory of the Hamas party in the January 25th legislative elections, the party is now charged with forming a new Palestinian cabinet and bureaucracy. Hoping for a coalition with the previously-ruling Fateh party, Hamas leaders delayed the formation of the government. Such a coalition now seems unlikely, with US aid money at stake for Fateh if the party partners with Hamas, and pressure mounting on Hamas to fully form the new government by March 27th.
During the inter-party talks this week, the Hamas negotiators have already revised their program twice, but still not to the satisfaction of the Fateh party leadership.
Rudwan al-Akhras, the Fatah representative in the dialogue, said on Wednesday – the fourth day of inconclusive coalition talks in Gaza – that the gap between the Fateh party position and Hamas’ proposed platform was still very wide.
Aljazeera television reported al-Akhras as saying that all the presentations and amendments in the revised Hamas offer did not meet the minimum demands of Fatah for joining a Hamas-led government. "I do not see any encouraging signals that we will be able to reach an agreement over the programme to form a joint government between the factions", he added, in an interview with Reuters.
The minor parties also participated in the talks, but did not come to an agreement with the Hamas party either. The leftist Al-Badil (the Alternative) coalition withdrew, with its head Bassam al-Salhi saying late last week that al-Badil would not participate in a Hamas-led government.
But Al-Badil legislative council member Saleh Zeidan, with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) party, described the discussions with Hamas as positive.
He noted that Al Badil, Fateh, Abu Ali Mustafa and Independent Palestine blocs had all made suggestions to include four issues in the new government’s political platform: the first is to base this platform on the Basic Law and the Declaration of Independence; the second is to include the Palestinian Liberation Organization as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people; the third is to base the government’s program on international legitimacy resolutions; and the fourth is to safeguard the achievements of Palestinian women and allow them to achieve full equality in all aspects.
Salah al-Bardaweel, the Hamas parliamentary bloc spokesman, was quoted by Aljazeera as saying that the Hamas party had taken note of the remarks made by other blocs on the revised program and would study them carefully before putting forth a fresh offer to serve as the basis for more talks.
"This night [Wednesday] we will decide conclusively on matters and through the institutions of Hamas movement," Al Bardaweel said, hinting that the blocs are free to return to the movement in case Hamas formulated the final platform of the government.
Furthermore, Hamas movement’s spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri asserted on Thursday that the movement will hand out today its final draft of the next government platform, and that if the other parliamentary blocs refused to participate in the government Hamas will submit it with its own ministers.
"We listened yesterday to the remarks of parliamentary blocs, which were repeated, and today we will deliver the final draft of the government platform of Hamas, and will meet with them in bilateral meetings to know their final response," Abu Zuhri said.
The Hamas spokesman pointed out that his movement has made many amendments in its platform to make it closer to the position of the other parties, but this was not satisfactory for them. "We were surprised that others insisted on dragging Hamas away from its platform to adopt other platforms, including accepting previous agreements which include a clear recognition of the occupation, which is something we reject."