Russian FM Sergei Lavrov talks during a meeting with representatives of Palestinian groups as a part of an intra-Palestinian talks in Moscow, Russia February 12, 2019. (Reuters)

February 18, 2019

Tensions between Fatah and the Islamic Jihad movement persisted as they continued to trade accusations over the failure to reach an agreement on the final statement of last week’s talks in Moscow.

Fatah officials accused Iran and regional countries of supporting the stances of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in order to prolong the Palestinian division.

Member of Fatah’s Central Committee and the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Azzam al-Ahmad, accused the two movements of sabotaging the talks in the Russian capital.

He told state television that Hamas rejected the closing statement of the talks after the gatherers had reached an agreement on it. The Islamic Jihad also refused to sign, lodging an objection over the description of the PLO as the legitimate and sole representative of the Palestinian people. It also rejected the article that stipulated that a Palestinian state be established based on the 1967 borders.

Ahmad expressed surprise with the position of Hamas, the Islamic Jihad, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the General Command (PFLP-GC).

He confirmed that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told officials not to hold any meetings with the Islamic Jihad before the movement retracts its stances and publicly recognizes the Palestinian people’s right of return and the PLO as their legitimate and sole representative.

He asserted that “Fatah does not meet with anyone who attacks the PLO.”

His remarks coincided with a Fatah statement that condemned Hamas and the Islamic Jihad’s withdrawal from past agreements, including the National Accord, the 2011 Moscow meetings, the 2017 Cairo agreement and others. All of the agreements recognize the PLO as the legitimate and sole representative of the people.

Fatah believes there is “a plot by Hamas and Islamic Jihad to thwart Russian efforts.”

The statement was interpreted as an implicit accusation that foreign powers were behind the two factions’ attempts to scuttle the talks.

Officials openly pointed the finger at Iran and regional countries, with Ahmad saying that the Tehran was the greatest player in fueling Palestinian division.

Member of the executive and central committees, Saeb Erekat, urged Palestinian factions to stop depending on Tehran, saying the PA is now confronting Iranian, Turkish and Muslim Brotherhood interference in Palestine.

Hamas and the Islamic Jihad were quick to respond to Fatah’s accusations.

Member of Islamic Jihad’s politburo, Mohammed al-Hindi, said the movement fully supports the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

He renewed the movement’s condemnation of the abandonment of 80 percent of Palestinian territories through the Oslo Accord and the two-state solution, both of which inevitably failed.

Hamas politburo member Moussa Abu Marzouk said Russia was angered by the participating factions’ failure to issue a final statement after the Moscow talks, holding Ahmad responsible for the development.

He said in a tweet that the factions agreed on a document and sent it to the Palestinian embassy, but they were later surprised that the distributed statement was altered.

The movement also rejected Fatah’s decision not to attend any meeting attended by the Islamic Jihad.

Hamas spokesman, Hazem Qassem interpreted this as a sign that Fatah was seeking to unilaterally lead the country.

Fatah spokesman Ousama al-Qawasmi, stated that it is shameful that a Palestinian, whatever his political affiliation may be, would not recognize the PLO as the legitimate and sole representative of the people.

Asharq Al-Awsat

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Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.