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December 04, 2017

Fatah Official: Iran is Hindering Palestinian Reconciliation

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Top Hamas operatives Yahya Sinwar and Ismail Haniyeh


The man tasked with leading efforts to reconcile Fatah and Hamas has accused the Islamic Republic of Iran of working to prevent reconciliation between the two Palestinian groups, which rule the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and the Gaza Strip, respectively.

Fatah and Hamas are rivals for power. They engaged in a brief and bloody civil war in the summer of 2007, after Fatah lost elections in 2006. That conflict ended with Hamas seizing control of the Gaza Strip, which had previously been run by Fatah, the movement that dominates both the U.S.-supported Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

As CAMERA has noted, Hamas and Fatah have been in reconciliation talks for nearly four months ("The Washington Post Belatedly Covers Hamas-Fatah Talks," Oct. 6, 2017).

On Nov. 27, 2017, a senior Fatah official named Azzam al-Ahmad told al-Arabiya, a Saudi Arabian outlet, that, “Iran is the number one sponsor of the division…the number one financier.” The Times of Israel’s Dov Lieber noted the significance of al-Ahamd’s comments, calling them “rare” and “full-throated (“Senior Fatah Official: Iran the key source of Palestinian division,” November 28).”

Tehran is a chief supporter of Hamas and other groups that rival Fatah, such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

Both Hamas and PIJ challenged Fatah’s support for diplomatic engagement with Israel during the 1990s Oslo process that created the PA. Both groups, as well as Fatah elements like Tanzim—which was supported by then-Fatah and PLO-head Yasser Arafat—perpetrated terrorist attacks against Israelis.

Iran’s support for Hamas dried up as a result of a disagreement over Tehran’s involvement in the Syrian civil war. However, Iran recently renewed its support of the U.S.-designated terrorist group and, in a widely underreported move, senior Hamas operative Saleh al-Arouri visited Iran in late October 2017 (“Where’s the Coverage? Hamas Visits Iran,” CAMERA, Oct. 27, 2017).

Indeed, in an August 2017 interview, Hamas’ Gaza chief, Yahya Sinwar, admitted that Iran is now “the largest backer financially and militarily” of the terror group.

In his interview with al-Arabiya, Al-Ahmad stated, “It seems that one of the conditions for the return of Iranian support [to Hamas] is the continuation of the division.” As part of the ongoing talks, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has insisted that the authority be in sole control of all weapons and security in the Gaza Strip. Hamas has refused to give up its arsenal.

Azzam al-Ahmad’s remarks were widely ignored by major U.S. news outlets, including The Washington Post, USA Today, The Washington Times, and others. By contrast, The Times of Israel provided a detailed report, complete with essential background and context.

A Palestinian official highlighted Iran’s efforts to thwart a “unity deal” between two rival and warring factions and many in the media were nowhere to be found.

Posted by SD at December 4, 2017 11:02 AM

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