BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar has reportedly blamed Fatah for the delay in reconciliation talks, confirming reports that talks reached a dead end.
"After we signed the agreement, Fatah on the ground worked against it," Al-Zahar told the Jordanian newspaper Al-Dustur on Tuesday.
He added that Fatah were linking the whole reconciliation process to the position of prime minster, an approach which was damaging unity efforts.
Zahar also denied reports that President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Khalid Mash'al went to Turkey to resolve the dispute, saying "the aim of the visit was not the reconciliation or resolving the dispute between Abbas and Mash'al."
Senior Hamas official Khalil Al-Hayya said Monday that Hamas was not aware of any arrangements for Mash'al to meet Abbas in Cairo.
Abbas and Mash'al had been scheduled to meet in Cairo on Tuesday to finalize the formation of a unity government, but the meeting was indefinitely postponed.
Gaza Hamas leader Ismail Radwan said the trip was delayed over a leadership row. Hamas rejected Fatah's nomination of Salam Fayyad to the post of prime minister in the new government.
In a statement released Monday, Al-Hayya reiterated Hamas' insistence that the party would not accept Fayyad as head of the unity government.
"It is necessary to find alternatives and there are many others to choose [from]," he said.
Al-Hayya added that Abbas did not have the right to insist on any candidate for the post.
But the Hamas official said the reconciliation agreement signed between Hamas and Fatah in May had not collapsed.
"It is inappropriate to jump to a conclusion and say that reconciliation efforts have reached an impasse, or that they are frozen," he said.
Under the terms of the unity deal, Fatah and Hamas must agree on independent figures to make up a government that will prepare for legislative and presidential elections within a year.