In a special interview with IMEMC correspondent in Gaza, Ahmad Abu Houli, a Fatah member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) said that the success of the latest Mecca deal on a unity government depends on Hamas’s renunciation of its rhetoric.
In a special interview with IMEMC correspondent in Gaza, Ahmad Abu Houli, a Fatah member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) said that the success of the latest Mecca deal on a unity government depends on Hamas’s renunciation of its rhetoric.

-What are the factors behind Mecca Deal Success?

In order to have a sustainable agreement on a national unity government, Hamas should abandon its rhetoric, which is based on dismissing other players and linking the national interests with other regional parties’ like Syria and Iran. Therefore, Hamas should not allow such parties to use our national cause for the best of their own objectives.

The letter of assignment presented by President Abbas to the Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya, included clear-cut points that Hamas, including its supreme Khaled Mash’al, agreed to during the Mecca talks. These points were: the government should commit to the interests of the Palestinian people in accordance with the Palestinian prisoners’ conciliation document, the Arab summits’ relevant findings, the Oslo accords, which all refer to a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.

I believe that the task letter has been clear enough but Hamas does not have enough audacity to convince its ranks of it, thus turning from an extremist-oriented rhetoric into a realistic one.

-What is the alternative to the failure of Mecca Deal?

Frankly, failure of Mecca talks means a civil war. However, the fact that both Fatah and Hamas have realized that each can never assume the Palestinian politics alone; Saudi Arabia’s pledge to support the deal politically and financially; and past experiences with the Israeli occupation’s intransigence in terms of peace with the Palestinians, have all reduced the possibility of such a civil war.

Both Israel and the United States, especially in the upcoming three-way summit between President Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, should not take intransigent positions towards the Mecca Deal, and rather help the President and Fatah.

Helping the President, amidst Hamas extremism, would mean emergence of a new moderate stream within this movement that would soften positions regarding possible final settlement talks.

I believe that Israel’s failure to implement the Road Map peace blueprint by setting forth 14 reservations, has bolstered Hamas’s position in the Palestinian street. This is a matter that brought Hamas to power and led the Palestinian territories to an unprecedented state of ‘political divergence’.
Our people are looking forward to peace, yet what is needed is concessions for the sake of peace. I believe that peace in the region requires the concerned parties, including Israel, to produce ‘considerable concessions’. For this purpose, next month four regional countries will present new ideas for Palestinian-Israeli peace. I believe that such an opportunity should be seized.

-What Measures could the PLC take to end chaos and lawlessness across the Palestinian territories?

The PLC includes majority members of Hamas (78 out of 132 seats), therefore, the PLC’s work has been blocked, apparently, by a Hamas decision.

As we are all representatives of the Palestinian people irrespective of their affiliations, what is required is that the PLC should assume its ordinary role away from the duplication being practiced by Hamas. That means that Hamas’s bloc (Change and Reform) should not act as if it were the government. The PLC’s role is to watch the government’s performance for the good of the people, who voted for the PLC members.

Let me give you an instance. Fatah has passed a bill demanding interrogation of the interior minister, with respect to a security lapse and lawlessness, based on the basic law of the Palestinian Authority. Unfortunately, the PLC is yet to be convened, and a session on this issue has been delayed many times.

The sessions have been delayed due to absence of the members of the Change and Reform bloc. I believe that the reason behind this is the fact that Hamas is not willing to account for the interior ministry, Said Siyam, who is one of its seniors. I believe that this was ‘intentional’.

So far, Hamas is exclusively acting within its own platform, dismissing others and taking power into its own hands.

-Given the fact that the Palestinian society is tribal-based, can influential families in the Gaza Strip help prevent recurrence of infighting?

In light of my own experience, I am confident that our society will be able to contain such sorrowful events in the future, as the losers are these families who lose their beloved ones for nothing. All are losers in this internal conflict, yet I believe that conciliation committees, made up of clans’ chiefs, would yield no effort to contain recent family disputes because of infighting by means of Diya (financial compensation for families of the killed) as well as reconciliation efforts.

Ahmad Abu Houli, P.HD of Social Sciences and a Fatah member of Palestinian parliament, lives in central Gaza Strip.