China to host ‘Palestinian unity talks’ between Hamas, Fatah

The Cradle, April 28, 2024 ─  

Delegations from Palestinian resistance faction Hamas and the West Bank-ruling Fatah have traveled to China for “unity talks” hosted by Beijing as the country looks to expand its newfound role as a mediator in West Asia.

According to a Fatah official who spoke with Reuters, the delegation from the party that controls the Palestinian Authority (PA) is led by Azzam al-Ahmad, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. For its part, the Hamas delegation is reportedly led by senior official Moussa Abu Marzook.

“We support strengthening the authority of the Palestinian National Authority and support all Palestinian factions in achieving reconciliation and increasing solidarity through dialogue and consultation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a press briefing on 26 April.

The visit will mark the first time Hamas officials have visited China since Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on 7 October and the start of the Israeli genocide in Gaza.

A Chinese diplomat, Wang Kejian, met Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh in Qatar last month, according to the Chinese foreign ministry. Beijing says the talks sought to open a pathway to reconcile the two Palestinian parties.

Last year, China brokered a historic rapprochement deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia, ending years of hostility. Beijing’s diplomatic success also opened the door for talks to end the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

The highly unpopular Fatah has been the de facto ruler of the occupied West Bank since 2006, when Hamas won the last legislative elections to be held in Palestine.

Hamas’ victory at the polls was not welcomed by then-US President George Bush, who put in motion a covert initiative to ignite a Palestinian civil war and prevent Hamas from taking power. The meddling from Washington, Israel, and allied Arab states led to a Fatah-Hamas war in 2007 that saw the two parties split control of the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, respectively.

In 2016, a leaked audio revealed that, 10 years earlier, Hillary Clinton suggested the Palestinian elections be rigged, calling them “a big mistake.”

“I do not think we should have pushed for an election in the Palestinian territories. I think that was a big mistake. And if we were going to push for an election, then we should have made sure that we did something to determine who was going to win,” Clinton said.

China’s diplomatic efforts come on the heels of a statement by senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya, who earlier this week suggested that the armed wing of Hamas could be folded into a “Palestinian national army” if Palestinian statehood is achieved.

He also said that Hamas would be willing to join the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and form a unified government for Gaza and the West Bank with Fatah on the condition of a “fully sovereign Palestinian state” on pre-1967 borders and “the return of Palestinian refugees in accordance with the international resolutions.”

In January, Russia hosted a round of “unity talks” between several Palestinian factions, including Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), PFLP General Command, and the Al-Saiqa organization.

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