Mahmoud a-Zahar, Hamas' foreign minister in Gaza, said Friday that the security forces in the Strip have exposed a plan to assassinate senior group leaders in an attempt to sabotage the negotiation efforts between Hamas and Fatah.
Speaking to Friday worshippers, a-Zahar said that behind the plot stood former members of the Palestinian Authority's security forces that operated in Gaza prior to Hamas' takeover of the Strip.
According to the senior Hamas official, the dialogue between Hamas and Fatah is facing difficulties. "We refuse to allow the return of the Authority's preventive security forces into the Gaza Strip, as Fatah demanded.
"We will not grant Fatah's demand to bring back 15,000 PA officers into the Strip. We are willing to consider a gradual return of these forces to operational activity," he explained.
Dialogue hits impasse?
So far the talks between the rivaling factions have failed. Egypt invited Hamas and Fatah for a last round of talks in Cairo, scheduled for Saturday, in a last bid to salvage the Palestinian dialogue.
At the beginning of the week, however, an Egyptain official estimated that chances for reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah are nonexistent.
He told Ynet that both sides were entrenched in their positions, which prevented any progress in the negotiations.
Egypt has been making efforts in the last days to spur on contacts between the two Palestinian factions and has sent a security mission to the territories. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's emissaries wished to bring closer the positions of the two sides in the hopes of signing a new agreement this month.
However, according to the Egyptian source, the mediators came against hardheadedness on the part of both sides, especially the Fatah representatives. The latter are intended to take part in a Fatah convention on August 4th, and they fear attending it and presenting a controversial agreement.