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Hamas Rejects Demands by Rival Palestinian Leaders to Resign


The ruling Islamic militant group Hamas has rejected demands from rival Palestinian leaders to resign. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, a power struggle between Hamas and the opposition Fatah party intensified after the collapse of talks on a national unity government.

Leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) called on the Hamas-led government to resign, because of its failure to form a moderate government acceptable to the West.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the Fatah party, convened the PLO leadership, after declaring that months of talks with Hamas on a national unity government had reached a "dead end." Mr. Abbas hoped that such a government would end the international sanctions that have crippled the Palestinian Authority and economy.

But Hamas has rejected key international demands for ending sanctions, namely, to renounce violence and recognize Israel. And, Hamas was furious over the demand to resign, accusing Mr. Abbas and Fatah of trying to overthrow the elected government.

Palestinian analyst Wadia Abu Nasser says Fatah and Hamas are locked in a deepening power struggle with no way out.

"I don't see any kind of possible coexistence nowadays between Fatah and Hamas under the current circumstances. So, therefore, I believe the friction will prevail," he said.

Some Fatah leaders believe the only way to break the deadlock is to call early elections. But that is not an attractive option for Mr. Abbas. Even though Hamas rule has brought economic hardship on the Palestinian people, they ousted Fatah from power less than a year ago because it is widely seen as corrupt.

Abu Nasser says that perception has not changed.

"I'm not sure that Fatah, under the current circumstances, is able to win any elections," he added.

Tensions between Hamas and Fatah have sparked frequent clashes between rival militias. The unity talks brought a period of relative calm, but the collapse of dialogue has raised fears of more violence.

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