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Unity deal 'next year'

March 14, 2012 11:23 P.M. (Updated: March 16, 2012 11:39 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Hamas' leadership in the Gaza Strip is unlikely to follow through on its end of the reconciliation deal with Fatah anytime soon, a senior party official said Wednesday.

The party's external leadership agreed in Qatar to implement the deal in a joint announcement by politburo chief Khalid Mashaal and Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, disappointing the leadership in Gaza.

But a top official in Hamas' leadership in Gaza said the movement is unconvinced by Fatah's assurances. For example, it continues to arrest Hamas members in the West Bank. This is in contrast to Gaza, he said.

Mashaal is trying to persuade Hamas in Gaza to agree to implement the deal, and that is why he requested a delay from Abbas, according to the source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"The delay is so Hamas' leadership (in Gaza) can be persuaded. Abu Mazen knows that."

Asked about the presence of Hamas in Syria, the official added that the movement's time in Damascus is over. The chaos experienced by the country "is a threat to their lives," the Hamas official said.

He added that the movement is at odds with Iran's leadership after abandoning Syria.
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