The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has refused to be disarmed as part of a recent national reconciliation deal with rival party Fatah, stressing that its weapons are not up for discussion.
“The resistance’s weapons cannot be divided…and all the red lines are under it,” senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said in a news conference in Gaza on Monday, noting that the movement has the right to resist the Israeli occupation till it ends.
Hayya further expressed concerns over recent remarks by senior Fatah officials but stressed that Hamas “will continue the path of reconciliation to end the Palestinian division,” despite obstacles created by the rival group.
Meanwhile, Hayya urged the Palestinian Authority to lift sanctions against the Gaza Strip and called on the government to resolve the issue of employee payments.
Hamas and Fatah inked a historic reconciliation deal in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, in October to put an end to their decade-long rivalry.
Fatah and Hamas have been at odds ever since the latter scored a landslide victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006.
Since 2007, Hamas has been governing Gaza while Fatah has been based in the autonomous parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The two rival Palestinian factions finally agreed on a unity government in April 2014, but it fell apart months later.
According to the accord, Fatah will lift an array of punitive sanctions that it imposed on Hamas earlier this year. In return, Hamas will join the Palestinian Authority to form a unity government, which will exert its full control over the blockaded coastal sliver from the beginning of December.
The deal also requires some 3,000 members of the Palestinian Authority police force to be redeployed to Gaza, an unnamed member of the negotiating team told the AFP.
Another party to the talks, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the accord would also see the unity government’s forces take control of Gaza’s borders, including the Rafah border crossing, a key gateway to Egypt.
Some serious hurdles, however, remained unsettled in the agreement, including the status of the Hamas military wing, known as the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, and its estimated 25,000 fighters, who have defended Gaza against three deadly Israeli wars over the past decade.
Hamas had already said that the force was non-negotiable.