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Fatah: Mediation failed, Hamas won't let delegates leave Gaza

Aug. 3, 2009 9:19 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 4, 2009 1:25 P.M.)
Ramallah – Ma’an – Arab mediators have failed to convince Hamas to allow Fatah delegates to the sixth conference leave the Gaza Strip to Bethlehem, where the meet will be held Tuesday, Fatah announced on Sunday.

Earlier this week Hamas had announced that every Fatah delegate who snuck out to the West Bank to attend the conference would be arrested upon their return to Gaza as the Palestinian Authority refused to release Hamas affiliates.

Following a session of Fatah's Central Committee in Ramallah Sunday, Fatah parliament bloc speaker Azzam Al-Ahmad said, "The Central Committee has come to the conclusion that Hamas doesn’t want to allow Fatah's delegates to leave the Gaza Strip, and instead wants to blackmail Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, which we refuse."

However, the Central Committee decided that the conference would be held as scheduled on Tuesday, 4 August in Bethlehem, he asserted, highlighting that quorum for the conference had been achieved.

Al-Ahmad accused Hamas of planning to deepen its rivalry with Fatah. "It is obvious they want to go ahead with their plan to divide the homeland. Their plans match Ariel Sharon's unilateral plan to separate the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. They want a state with temporary borders," he said.

Al-Ahmad explained that an agreement was reached with Egypt to end the case of political detainees, pointing out that the PA released 300 Hamas-affiliated detainees, "but Hamas insisted on continuing with blackmail, the same way gangs do." The Islamic movement refused to sign an agreement on 7 July, and then on 28 July because they refuse to drop the prisoners issue in an effort to thwart dialogue, he said.
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