Palestinian clashes cast gloom on reconciliation efforts
Hamas has vowed revenge on Fatah after a shootout between the two factions in the West Bank that left six dead.
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Although the two groups had been engaged in talks held in Egypt about how to create a unity government, Xinhau reports that Hamas is now considering withdrawing from the negotiations. A Hamas spokesperson in Gaza said that the battle underscores an effort by the Palestinian Authority and Israel to "uproot" the Islamic group that rejects Israel's existence.Skip to next paragraph
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"We are now studying the suspension of our participation in the Cairo-hosted dialogue as part of the response to the assassination of two holy fighters in Qalqilya city in the West Bank," Salah al-Bardaweel, a Hamas spokesman, told reporters in Gaza.
Meanwhile, officials within the Palestinian Authority now say that their forces were only acting in self-defense and that it was the Hamas members who incited the violence, reports Ma'an, a Palestinian newswire. Hussein Ash-Sheikh, a senior Palestinian Authority official, told Ma'an that Hamas leaders in Gaza were wrongly inciting Gaza residents against Fatah.
The Los Angeles Times writes that the incident, along with Hamas's response, is likely to test Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has been criticized as wielding only limited control. Officials close to Abbas said that this latest raid was done without the help of Israel, calling it "100 percent Palestinian."
The Palestinian operation may, however, have been a success in at least one sense as an analysis in the conservative Jerusalem Post says that it showcased the competence of Palestinian Authority forces. Given their apparent commitment to stopping militants, the Post says it may create pressure for Israeli Forces to withdraw from the area.
Sunday's operation ... came just days after Mahmoud Abbas met with President Barack Obama in Washington, where he accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of being an obstacle to peace.
The operation in Kalkilya [Qalqilya] is meant to reinforce that message. On the one hand, it shows the US that Abbas is serious about cracking down on Hamas. On the other hand, it is meant to pressure Israel to relinquish its control over Kalkilya to the PA.
Palestinian Authority forces receive training and support from the US and Europe to help ensure that Hamas will not be able to take over in the West Bank as it did in Gaza, reports The New York Times.
Hussein al-Sheikh, a West Bank Fatah leader, told Israel Radio: "Whoever wants now to come in and disrupt the security and order of the Palestinian residents, to have a militia here, gangs here and there and an underground below, we won't agree."