Last minute disagreements before Palestinian unity government announcement
Hamas and Fatah officials traded accusations through local media on Monday, hours before the expected announcement of a unity government.
Senior Fatah official Azzam Al Ahmad said that the unity government would be announced and sworn-in at 1 .p.m. as scheduled.
"Those who want to join the government are welcome, and those who want to evade and thus put obstacles in the way just as Israel does, let them take responsibility for their behavior," Al Ahmad told the Gaza-based Al Quds radio station.
Asked to comment on Hamas' decision not to join a government which does not have a minister of prisoners, the Fatah official said he "no longer knows who to converse with within Hamas."
Senior Hamas official Khalil Al Hayya confirmed Monday that the movement would not join a unity government which does not include a ministry and minister for detainees.
"We have made concessions in all stages and we agreed that the premier of the unity government be affiliated to Fatah, and we agreed that some of the ministers be affiliated to Fatah and the left wing Palestinian factions. However, some sides misunderstood our lenience and flexibility."
Dissolving the Ministry of Prisoners is a "stab in the back of hunger striking Palestinian prisoners," he added.
Hamas even suggested that Fatah official Hisham Abdul Raziq take the prisoners' affairs portfolio, having already eased on their opposition to Riyad al-Maliki as foreign minister.
Al Ahmad told Al Quds radio that Fatah has been devoted to the cause of prisoners since before Hamas came into existence, saying that Abbas halted peace talks because Israel refused to release the last group of veteran detainees.
The political division between Fatah and Hamas began in 2007, a year after Hamas won legislative elections across the Palestinian territories but was subjected to a boycott by Israel and Western countries that left the economy in a fragile state.
In that year, however, Hamas accused Fatah members in the Gaza Strip of engineering a coup to bring down the government, which led to street clashes and ended with Hamas control over the Gaza Strip and a Fatah-led government in the West Bank.