Hamas, Fatah Unity Talks Disintegrating

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GAZA STRIP - Hamas threatened to boycott reconciliation talks with Fatah, scheduled to being on November 9 in Cairo.

Citing the Palestinian Authority's recent crackdown against Hamas in Hebron, senior Hamas official Rafat Nasif, a resident of Tulkarem and a member of the Hamas delegation to the conference in Cairo, said they're considering canceling their participation.

"We believe that some Fatah leaders are trying to foil Egypt's mediation efforts," Nasif said. "If this campaign continues, we will have to reconsider our participation in the national reconciliation conference," he said.

Last week, the PA deployed an additional 600 policemen to Hebron, who, according to Hamas, have arrested more than 100 of its members and closed several Hamas-affiliated charities.

PA policemen also raided Hamas-run mosques, confiscating material and arresting imams (Islamic clerics), university students, teachers and other activists, an unnamed source told Jerusalem Post Palestinian Affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh.

The PA claims they've arrested mostly criminals.

During a visit to Hebron, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, accompanied by Interior Minister Abed al-Razek al-Yihya, said he didn't understand why "certain parties criticize our determination to bring peace to our citizens and homeland."

Gaza-based Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, who called the PA crackdown against Hamas activists "unprecedented," said the Abbas government was cooperating with Israel to rid the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) of Hamas-affiliated institutions and individuals.

"Unless the Egyptians interfere immediately and stop this vicious campaign against Hamas, we won't be able to go to the conference," Barhoum said.

"This assault only increased after the [Hamas] government in the Gaza Strip released all the political prisoners belonging to Fatah, in a goodwill gesture ahead of the negotiations."

"Abbas's actions in the West Bank will sabotage any chance of achieving reconciliation," he said.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, YNet news

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