The back and forth between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas continued on Monday, with a Fatah official saying that Hamas must hand over rule of Gaza as a condition to forming a unity government.
Speaking to the Ma’an news agency, Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad said Hamas has to "lift their hands" from Gaza and allow the unity government to work.
Al-Ahmad, who heads reconciliation talks for Fatah, added that his Hamas counterpart, Moussa Abu Marzouk, is "unqualified" to call for a unity government after their work was "foiled" by Hamas.
The Palestinian unity agreement signed in April 2014 sought to end seven years of bad blood between Fatah and Hamas, but the sides have continued to quarrel over many issues.
The unity government between Hamas and Fatah collapsed in June when Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who heads Fatah, decided to dissolve it amid a deepening rift between the sides.
Negotiations on a new government were set to restart after the Eid celebrations marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, but the sides have continued to quarrel.
Earlier this month, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah criticized Hamas for creating a shadow government in Gaza and blocking efforts to reach political unity.
Hamas has in turn accused the PA of executing a plan to "eradicate" the movement from Judea and Samaria, saying that an arrest campaign of over 200 members was carried out by the PA to target reconciliation efforts between the two factions.
On the weekend, senior Hamas member Salah Bardawil sharply attacked Abbas, following Abbas’s claim that Hamas refuses to implement the final clauses in the reconciliation agreement regarding personnel changes in the unity government.
Bardawil told the Quds Press news agency that Abbas does not believe in national unity and proceeded to called him “a dictator who every day proves to be an enemy of the Palestinian people and who unsuitable to govern.”
He added that Abbas is the main reason that the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah is not being implemented, accusing Abbas of stalling the formation of a joint Arab effort to deal with the "Zionist enemy".