Eighty-one Palestinian non-profit organizations issued a statement, on Monday, urging rival Palestinian factions to work toward reconciliation, just after the Hamas party denied claims that the Fatah party had made any offer of national unity.In its statement, the Palestinian Network of Non-Governmental Organizations (PNGO) said, ‘[i]t is necessary to stop media incitement, to end politically-motivated detentions, to respect freedom of expression and assembly, to protect citizens’ rights and dignity.’
The organization called on the two main Palestinian political parties, Hamas and Fatah, to take practical steps to reach an agreement in order to restructure the Palestine Liberation Organization so that it represents the whole Palestinian national movement. The PNGO stressed that the restructuring is a necessary step in order to ‘secure and defend the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to freedom, independence and return to their lands.’
Hamas has been demanding a restructuring of the PLO for years.
The appeal came at a time of unrest in the Middle East, with protests in Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Morocco and Iran, where thousands in each capital demanded change and reforms.
In Palestine, the Hamas movement declared support for an inter-Palestinian reconciliation, while denying that any initiative of this kind had been made by the Fatah faction or the PLO.
Salah al-Bardawil, a senior Hamas official and lawmaker, noted that any solution to the crisis should start with the rebuilding of the PLO and end with the formation of a government through fair elections.
In addition, Hamas leader Dr. Ismail Radwan reportedly said, in a press release, that his movement was consulting with national factions to agree on a new plan for national reconciliation.
Hamas officials told reporters with the Ma’an News Agency that they suspected that Fatah’s decision to hold elections, and the resignation of the entire Fatah cabinet, were due to the Palestinian Authority’s loss of popularity after the ‘Palestine Papers’ leak. In that leak, al-Jazeera News Agency revealed documents showing that major concessions were offered to Israel by Palestinian negotiators.
Palestinian leaders in the West Bank called for elections in September after successful protests demanding the ouster of Egyptian and Tunisian dictators. Hamas, however, said that it would not take part in the vote, explaining that it did not trust the Fatah party to run free and fair elections.