Fatah, Hamas Reach Deal To End Rivalry
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
And now let's follow up on a so-called breakthrough on a long-running rivalry between the two leading Palestinian factions. Fatah and Hamas say they have reached an agreement that will ultimately help unite Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. But there is skepticism over whether this agreement will hold. NPR's Jackie Northam has this report from Hamas-held territory, the Gaza Strip.
JACKIE NORTHAM: Salah Bardawil, a spokesman for Hamas, says there are several reasons the two sides went to the negotiating table. He says the division between Fatah and Hamas was creating hardships for Palestinians, their lives, jobs, their social networks. Bardawil suggests that unhappiness could lead to the sort of uprisings seen in other parts of the Arab world.
NORTHAM: (Through Translator) People, even those who support Hamas, are fed up with this division. And because of this they went out to demonstrate to try to end it. And we've listened to them, and that's why all the efforts now are in reply to their demands.
NORTHAM: The problem is a profound breach between the two sides that intensified after the 2006 parliamentary elections. Hamas, a militant Islamist organization, won the vote. But Fatah, a secularist movement, refused to give up power. They became consumed in a vicious power struggle, and for the past four years, Fatah, which dominates the Palestinian Authority, has been in charge of the West Bank. Hamas rules the Gaza Strip. Mkhaimar Abu Sada, a political analyst with Gaza's Al-Azhar University, says he just doesn't see Fatah and Hamas coming together, especially on the security issue.
D: Hamas is very much convinced that Fatah and the security apparatus connected with Fatah are collaborating with Israel. They do not trust them. You think the security apparatus here in Gaza will mix Fatah and Hamas people in the same security service? There is no way that can happen.
NORTHAM: Jackie Northam, NPR News, in the Gaza Strip.
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