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Thursday, May 19, 2011     GET REAL

No 'joy' for Hamas as Palestinian Authority continues crackdown after reconciliation

GAZA CITY — Hamas has complained that the Palestinian Authority, despite a reconciliation agreement, has continued its crackdown on the Islamic opposition.


A senior Hamas official said the PA was maintaining restrictions on the opposition throughout the West Bank. The official, Hamed Al Bitawi, said PA intelligence agencies were summoning Hamas operatives for interrogations and dismissing suspected Hamas members from civil service, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The practices of these agencies were quelling the joy over reconciliation," Al Bitawi said.

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Al Bitawi, a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas must stop security forces from harassing Hamas in the West Bank. A leading Hamas cleric, Al Bitawi also called on the PA to release all political detainees.

In May, Hamas and Fatah signed an agreement for reconciliation ahead of plans to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank. Under the deal, arranged by Egypt, the two Palestinian movements would end harassment, free political prisoners, establish a unity government, prepare for elections and cooperate on security.

On May 18, however, Hamas said the PA was continuing its crackdown on Hamas, particularly in the area of the northern city of Nablus. Hamas said a teacher was dismissed from the Nablus-area village of Beita "for his political affiliation."

"Those [PA] apparatuses continued their anti-reconciliation practices," Hamas said in a statement.

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