Leaders of Hamas, the Palestinian terror group in control of Gaza, announced Sunday that the unity government it had established with Fatah last spring is now over, reports The Jerusalem Post.
Fatah is the leading secular Palestinian political party in the West Bank and the dominant faction in the Palestinian Authority (PA), the party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri announced at a Gaza press conference that the unity government expired at the end of its six-month term. He added that there would be dialogue about forming a future government, reports the Palestinian Ma’an news agency. But he and Fatah had bitter words for one another.
Hamas “isn’t interested in incitement, but rather seeks to maintain national unity,” Zuhri said.
The unity government, marked by rivalry throughout, ends at a time of high tension amidst a spate of terror attacks against Jews in and around Jerusalem, which Israel has accused Fatah and Abbas of inciting.
Hamas was also responding to statements from Abbas, who accused Israel and Hamas of conspiring and secretly negotiating with each other. Hamas insisted that Abbas stop spreading such lies, and he accused Abbas’s PA forces of arresting and detaining Hamas members for politically motivated reasons.
In November alone, according to Zuhri, 80 Palestinians were detained in the West Bank for having Hamas political affiliation. He claimed that 70 of those Hamas members were still in PA custody.
“Hamas denounces the escalating violations and criminal acts by the PA security services against supporters of Hamas and the Palestinian resistance,” he added.
Zuhri called on Abbas and PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to stop the detention campaign.
Abbas has accused Hamas of holding secret negotiations with Israel. “I have evidence that Hamas and Israel are conducting negotiations,” he said.
Abbas gave an interview on Egyptian television Saturday, in which he claimed that Hamas and Israel were directly negotiating in secret and had reached “understandings.” He provided no substantiation for that unlikely claim.
Israel and Hamas completed a 50-day war in August, which was preceded by an Israeli crackdown against Hamas in the West Bank, following the Hamas kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens.
Abbas, nevertheless, went into some detail, claiming that Israel offered Hamas control of 50 percent of the West Bank. He said that the sides had agreed there would be 15 years of negotiations to decide on the final status of the other half.
Hamas, considered by the U.S. to be a terrorist organization, took control of Gaza from the Fatah-controlled PA in violent battles in 2007, splitting Palestinian government into two parts, with the PA controlling the West Bank and Hamas ruling Gaza. In April 2014, after months of peace negotiations between Israel and the PA, Abbas suddenly announced that Fatah and the PA would form a unity government.
The unity government has shown little in terms of actual accomplishment in governing, and the two sides have continued their feud unabated throughout the government’s term.