Fatah Expects Little Progress in Reconciliation Talks with Hamas
(June 25, 2009)
Classified U.S. diplomatic cables, leaked by the whistleblower site WikiLeaks, contained details of Fatah's low expectations for progress in planned reconciliation meetings to be held in Cairo with delegations from Fatah and Hamas. According to senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad, Fatah and other PLO factions see little chance for success as they would continue to demand an arrangement that ends Hamas's control of Gaza and unifies Gaza and the West Bank.
25 June 2009, 14:33
1. (C) Summary. Fatah and Hamas delegations will hold reconciliation meetings in Cairo in late June in advance of a planned "signing ceremony" on July 7, according to senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad. Al-Ahmad said Egyptian officials want a "poltical" announcement that puts off the most difficult issues until new elections. Fatah opposes such an agreement because it could legitimize Hamas control of Gaza, he added. The PLO Executive Committee met June 25 to discuss reconciliation efforts, and most members - including President Abbas (Abu Mazen) - rejected any approach that would reinforce the status quo in Gaza. Abu Mazen is traveling to Amman to meet the Fatah delegation before it departs for Cairo on June 27. The PA intends to release 40 Hamas detainees, whom the PA Security Forces (PASF) do not consider a threat, as a goodwill gesture before the meetings. End Summary.
FATAH, HAMAS TO MEET AGAIN IN CAIRO -----------------------------------
2. (C) The head of Fatah's PLC bloc, Azzam al-Ahmad, told PolSpec June 25 that a Fatah delegation consisting of al-Ahmad, Chief of Military Intelligence Majid Farraj, Ahmad Qurei (Abu Ala'a), and Samir Mashharawi will travel to Egypt for meetings with Hamas in late June, in advance of a signing ceremony hosted by Egypt. Al-Ahmad said Fatah and Hamas will meet June 27, and again, possibly, June 28, joined by Egyptian Chief of Intelligence Omar Suleiman. He said the Egyptians remain intent on hosting a signing ceremony on July 7 for all Palestinian factions.
FATAH SEES LITTLE CHANCE OF SUCCESS -----------------------------------
3. (C) Al-Ahmad said the Egyptians have not presented a written draft agreement for the factions to consider, preferring instead that Fatah and Hamas bring their own drafts as starting points for discussion. He said the Egyptians are pushing for an announcement that purportedly ends the political division by creating a factional committee to liaise between Hamas in Gaza and the PA. According to al-Ahmad, the Egyptians hope this would allow the reconstruction of Gaza to move forward while maintaining the status quo during an "interim period" leading up to new elections.
4. (C) Al-Ahmad said the Egyptian approach defers dealing with difficult issues, allowing Hamas to entrench itself in Gaza. He said he doubts Hamas will relax its demands, particularly as the PA will maintain a security doctrine targeting Hamas members in the West Bank. Fatah and other PLO factions will continue to demand an arrangement that ends Hamas's control of Gaza and unifies Gaza and the West Bank, he said.
5. (C) The PLO Executive Committee met in Ramallah on June 25 to discuss reconciliation efforts in advance of the next round of Cairo talks. Executive Committee member Saleh Rafat told PolSpec that most members, including Abu Mazen, opposed any effort that would declare a "political" end to the division while maintaining the status quo. He said that any factional committee, such as that being pushed by the Egyptians, would provide cover for Hamas' illegitimate rule over Gaza. The Executive Committee, according to Saleh, will announce support for the formation of a unity government over both Gaza and the West Bank that abides by PLO agreements and the holding of elections "on time" in January 2010.
6. (C) Al-Ahmad said that Abu Mazen will travel to Amman to meet with the Fatah delegation before its departure for Cairo on June 27. He said that, in addition to pressing for a unity government that abides by PLO agreements and holds elections by January 2010, Fatah will press for the deployment of a joint security force in Gaza, effectively ending Hamas' security control.
HAMAS DEMANDS RELEASE OF WB DETAINEES; PA WILL MAINTAIN SECURITY POSTURE --------------------------------------
7. (U) Senior Hamas official Salah al-Bardawil said publicly that Hamas will attend the late June meetings in Cairo, adding, "Hamas will call for linking all issues on the agenda to the issue of the arrest of Hamas members in the West Bank JERUSALEM 00001080 002 OF 002 on political grounds." Al-Bardawil and other Hamas officials dismissed the PA's intention to release a few dozen Hamas prisoners as inadequate, saying that the PA arrests more Hamas members than it releases, and calling on the PA to release all Hamas detainees. He announced that the Hamas delegation will consist of Musa Abu Marzuq, Mahmud al-Zahar, Khalil al-Hayya, Nizar al-Awad Allah, Muhammad Naser, and Emad al-Alami.
8. (C) Azzam al-Ahmad told PolSpec that President Abbas ordered the release of an additional 40 Hamas detainees in the West Bank as a goodwill gesture in advance of the late June meetings (reftel). He said Abbas only authorized the release of Hamas detainees that the PASF do not consider a threat, and that the PASF will maintain its current security policy of targeting Hamas in the West Bank. WALLES