Yemeni-brokered talks on reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah have failed and Fatah negotiators are returning to the West Bank without a deal, aides to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday. The main point of contention appeared to be Fatah's demand, included in the Yemeni proposal, for Hamas to give up control of the Gaza Strip.
"The matter has ended in failure because Hamas refused to accept the Yemeni initiative as is," Abbas aide Yasser Abed Rabbo was quoted as saying by Reuters. "Our delegation will come back home tomorrow but it is ready to head back to Yemen once Hamas accepts the initiative as is."
The Yemeni proposal calls for the situation in the Gaza Strip to return to the way it was before the Hamas takeover and for Palestinian elections to be held, conditions backed by Abbas and rejected by Hamas. Another Abbas aide, Nabil Abu Rudeinah, said Hamas had added "conditions and reservations" to the Yemeni plan. Fatah has said it would agree to direct reconciliation talks with Hamas only if Hamas first consented to relinquish its hold on the Gaza Strip.
Hamas expressed surprise at the decision to bring the Fatah negotiators home. "Hamas holds Fatah responsible for the failure of the meetings in Yemen," Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said in Gaza. "The withdrawal of Fatah's delegation contradicted what happened in Yemen so far."
Earlier in the day, Yemen's president brought Hamas and Fatah negotiators together for their first meeting since the June takeover.