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Monday, July 11, 2011     GET REAL

Hamas: Abbas 'will find a closed door' from U.S. in bid for Palestinian statehood

GAZA CITY — For the first time, Hamas has dismissed a Palestinian Authority campaign to win international recognition for unilateral statehood in 2011.


A leading Hamas member said PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas would fail in his attempt to win United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state in the West Bank. Former Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar said Abbas was being stopped by the United States, which sought to foil any reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.

"Abu Mazen will find a closed door," said Zahar, using Abbas's nomme de guerre, said.

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At a news conference on July 7, Zahar became the first Hamas leader to reject the PA effort for unilateral statehood. Zahar said the campaign no longer made sense and would torpedo any Fatah-Hamas reconciliation accord, signed in May but never implemented.

"Under U.S. and Israeli pressure, he has emptied the contents of the agreement," Zahar said.

Zahar was the first Hamas leader to challenge the reconciliation accord, approved by political bureau chief Khaled Masha'al. In a rare public challenge, Zahar questioned the authority of the Hamas leadership in Syria to decide the future of the Gaza Strip, ruled by Hamas since 2007.

A key obstacle to the reconciliation accord was Abbas' insistence to approve the post of prime minister in a PA national unity government. Abbas has sought to keep Salam Fayad, supported by the West, in the post.

"The agreement called for everything to be done by consensus, but he [Abbas] insists to defer any vote by the legislature," Zahar said. "This is contrary to what was agreed upon."

Zahar said Abbas has proposed that the reconciliation agreement be suspended. The Hamas leader said the PA chairman wants only to acquire Hamas support for unilateral statehood in September.

"President Abbas is insisting on names for the premiership that are rejected by Hamas," Zahar said. "President Abbas is trying to delay issues that are related to reconciliation in order to reach the September bid. This has no meaning and gives nothing to the Palestinian people."

Zahar said Fatah and Hamas could eventually implement a reconciliation accord. But he said this would take place as a result of pressure from grassroots Palestinians.

"The street will impose this at the right moment even if Abu Mazen avoids this," Zahar said.

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