Rival Palestinian Factions Reject Unity

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Reconciliation between rival Palestinian factions appears as ellusive as ever, prompting Cairo to cancel this week's meeting between Hamas and Fatah.

What was touted as a breakthrough by neighboring Arab countries to reconcile the two groups has had little tangible results.

"We will have to live with the new reality in which the Palestinians have two separate entities, one in the Gaza Strip and the second in the West Bank," an Egyptian official told The Jerusalem Post.

"The war between Fatah and Hamas is likely to continue for a long time," he said.

It's not a new story by any means.

Following the Hamas victory in the January 2007 legislative elections, Saudi King Abdullah hosted delegations from both factions, producing a Palestinian unity government that lasted less than three months.

Two months later, in a week of violent fighting, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip, prompting PA President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the government and appoint Salam Fayyad to replace Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh as prime minister.

Despite efforts by Jordan's King Abdullah, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Slaeh, and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, among others, animosity between the two rival factions has never ceased, with harassment and arrests of each other's members, accompanied by an ongoing propaganda war.

Hamas blames the U.S. and Israel, while Fatah says Iran, Syria and Qatar have convinced Hamas officials not to yield to any of the PA's demands.

Meanwhile, Abbas has said he will not step down on January 9 when his term ends, and Hamas officials maintain they will no longer recognize him as president after that date and will appoint their own interim president until elections can be held.

While Abbas is trying to eradicate Hamas in PA-controlled cities in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), the group is quietly strengthening its position there as well.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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