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Monday, August 8, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Reconciliation deal with Fatah opens wide rift
in Hamas leadership

GAZA CITY — Hamas has been torn by a division within its leadership.


Palestinian sources said the Hamas political bureau has been racked by a feud over a reconciliation deal with the rival Fatah movement. They said the division has been highlighted by the boycott of a key founder of the movement, former Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar.

"Zahar has stopped coming to meetings of the political bureau and did not go to the last session at the end of May," a Palestinian source familiar with the Hamas leadership said.

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The sources said Zahar has been joined by others in the Hamas leadership who oppose the reconciliation deal with Fatah. They said the opposition was focused on Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Masha'al and his approval for the Palestinian Authority to negotiate with Israel.

Zahar was said to have been joined by deputy political bureau chief Mussa Abu Marzouk. The sources said both men have been angered by Masha'al's refusal to halt PA negotiations with Israel as part of reconciliation.

"The moment we allow the PA to represent Hamas in negotiating with Israel we become complicit in the results," the source said. "This is exactly what Israel and the West want."

The sources said this marked the biggest dispute within Hamas. They said disagreements over the composition of the so-called technocrat national unity government were expected to be resolved.

For his part, Zahar has acknowledged a dispute within the Hamas leadership. But he said the dispute would not divide the movement.

"There are differences within the movement, such as differences within the family, but it does not reach conflicts or divisions," Zahar said. "The ties will be resolved soon within the movement."

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