Hamas meets with Abbas-rival Dahlan as Palestinian reconciliation deal stalls

Last year, Hamas officials said they established a deal with Dalhan to ‘restore hope to the people of Gaza’

A senior Hamas delegation met with dissident Fatah leaders associated with exiled Mohammed Dahlan during a visit to Cairo on Monday amid an eroding Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal,the Times of Israelreported.

Following an invitation from the Egyptian authorities, the Hamas group met with the Democratic Reform Trend, an anti-Abbas group comprised of disgruntled Fatah officials headed by Dahlan.

The Hamas contingent that took part in the meeting, headed by Ismail Haniyeh, comprised of top officials including Khalil Al Hayya, Fathi Hammad and Rouhi Mushtahi.

Dahlan, a former PA security commander, was Abbas’s ally inside the Fatah party until they fell out in 2011 leading to the former’s expulsion from the party in 2011.

The dissident has since been living in exile in the United Arab Emirates and rumors circulated that he had been in previous Hamas talks with an eye to joining a government in the coastal enclave of the Gaza Strip.


Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 20, 2017 Kevin Hagen

During the meeting presided over by Egypt this week, the two sides reportedly discussed the ongoing political situation, the current major setbacks facing the Palestinian cause and the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip,the Times of Israelreported citing a statement released by a Fatah delegate present at the meeting Samir Mashharawi.

The dialogue also included ways of reigniting the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement efforts.

Earlier this month, the two leading Palestinian factions involved in securing the landmark accord aimed at ending the decade long-split, missed a deadline to move the process forward. Hamas was supposed to hand over power in the Gaza Strip to the PA by December but the handover was again delayed on February 1.

While small changes have occurred since the deal was signed in October — notably the handing over of Gaza’s borders to the PA — Hamas remains firmly in charge in Gaza.

The conditions in Gaza have continued to decline, exacerbated further by the dispute between Hamas and Fatah over electricity and fuel payments which have led to limited power supply and lack of drinkable water. The United States decision to suspend $65 million in funding to the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA), has only tightened access to resources.

It was hoped that reconciliation could alleviate humanitarian suffering in Gaza, home to some two million people.


Palestinian children sit by sacks of food provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the Gaza Strip where 40 percent of the two million population are dependent on aid SAID KHATIB (AFP/File)

Since the initial signing of the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal in November 2017, the meeting with Abbas’s rival is the first of its kind and could signal that the rapprochement efforts are deteriorating.

Last year, Hamas officials said they had established a deal with Dalhan to “restore hope to the people of Gaza and alleviate their suffering” which would include his return to the region and assistance from the UAE. Abbas thwarted the decision through his signing of the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal.

Reconciliation between Hamas and Dahlan would be seen as a severe blow for Abbas. However, as rapprochement continues to stall it appears that Hamas may be seeking alternative avenues as a means to relieve the plight within Gaza or possibly, indirectly put pressure on Abbas.

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