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Hamas training diplomats, challenging PLO monopoly abroad
Published Wednesday 05/09/2012 (updated) 07/09/2012 11:47
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Hamas deputy foreign minister Ghazi Hamad says the party is developing
the diplomatic skills of its staff. (MaanImages/File)
GAZA CITY (Reuters) -- Hamas has begun a training program for diplomats in the Gaza Strip where it rules, a senior official of the Islamist group said, raising the specter of divisions in the Palestinian national movement spreading to its representation abroad.

Hamas seized Gaza in a 2007 civil war with the Western-backed Fatah party that long dominated Palestinian politics and now rules parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. But Hamas has hitherto not challenged the PLO, dominated by Fatah and recognized by the United Nations as the Palestinians' sole representative abroad for almost 40 years.

It may be time to end that diplomatic monopoly, Hamas deputy foreign minister Ghazi Hamad suggested Wednesday.

"We have relations with some countries and we need to prepare our cadres and develop the diplomatic skills of staff to deal with those countries on joint projects," he told Reuters.

"The aim of such a step and training is to develop relations with world countries when time and conditions permit," said Hamad. He declined to say how many diplomats-in-waiting would be trained, what tasks they would perform or where.

Hamas officials seemed keen to play down the scheme to matriculate envoys from its mostly makeshift and short-staffed foreign ministry. They said they hoped a deal with Fatah could remove any need to deploy Hamas diplomats, but planned to have a corps of envoys ready should reconciliation prove impossible.

The PLO, with roots as a paramilitary organization and umbrella body for the many, often feuding Palestinian factions, finally won recognition from Israel in the landmark Oslo interim peace deal of 1993. But Hamas is not part of the PLO.

The United States and the European Union have classified Hamas as a terrorist organization over its refusal to renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept existing interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deals co-authored by the PLO.

Hamas already has delegations in Yemen, Lebanon and Iran. Now Hamas' foes in the West Bank fear it aims to expand its profile after its prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, met Egypt's newly elected Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi, this summer.

"We believe that our Egyptian brothers and the rest of the Arab world are aware of Israeli plans seeking to deepen Palestinian divisions, and to suggest that there are two legitimate powers, one in Gaza and the other in Ramallah," President Mahmoud Abbas told Wafa news agency.

Ramallah is the seat of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority government.

Abbas, who condemned the 2007 split as a "coup" and power grab by Hamas, has said that continued Israeli occupation could be effectively confronted -- and the Palestinians' statehood goal advanced -- if the two biggest Palestinian factions reconcile, a goal that has long eluded Qatari and Egyptian mediators.

Hamas has rejoiced in the rise to power of Islamist parties following Arab popular uprisings last year, hoping to parlay them into increased international recognition.

Iran, an important supporter of Hamas, invited Haniyeh to a summit of non-aligned nations held earlier this month. But Haniyeh declined in the face of sharp accusations by Fatah leaders that such a trip would worsen the internal discord that has damaged Palestinians' diplomatic quest for statehood.
1 ) Khaled / Palestine
05/09/2012 23:07
Another step showing the anti-Palestinian agenda under which Hamas was supported by Israel during the eighties. Their dream to undermine the PLO and divide our people between nationalists and religious is working here, but hopefully they wont succeed.

2 ) chil / usa
06/09/2012 08:17
the plo sided with israel in 93 and takes its orders from the zionist govt. and u want hamas to follow what the plo is doing. stop this talk as if the PA and the PLO are not controlled by america/israel

3 ) Tony B? / ME
06/09/2012 16:35
1&2) Obviously you two don't have much faith in the Pal leadership's ability to think and operate on their own initiative. The rest of the world agrees with you, but they lack the balls to admit it.

4 ) Dweikat / Palestine
06/09/2012 16:43
Chill, long time no see...
Are you still running the anti PA/PLO fanclub?
Go piss off and leave us! We don't need people like you! PLO was there before the Oslo accord and if they did something good or bad that does'nt make them controlled... Your Hamas friends are being played with by Iran..
Your Hamas friends are the one who are created by the zionist...

Hamas is only deepening division with there childish acts!
Leave us alone Chil..Go campaigning for Obama or something like that...

5 ) Mel / USA
06/09/2012 17:23
#1 Khaled:U have to admit the fact that ALL factions have acted as Zionist proxies,at 1 time or another,which is testiment to the fact that ALL are too egoistic & focused on factional-control than NATIONAL UNITY,as one state/nation! The PLO/PA is only a SHELL of what it once stood for(1964/1993).But,Palestine is MORE than just 'PLO' or 'Hamas'(&smaller faction)"chiefs".More than just political,religious,secular ideologues.Palestine must be ALL! ?IMPERFECT.But,UNITED,to PRESERVE the PEOPLE,first!

6 ) Donna McRoy / United States
06/09/2012 21:46
What country or countries, and for that matter, what part of the human race would even consider opening a door to known "terrorists." I urge all people in the US and like countries to get into news articles such as these and read up on things you're not even remotely educated about, like the Hamas', the Taliban, the different sects of Islam, etc. Leave running the government to its elected officials, and leave "religious" dictates and beliefs in the mosques, synagogues, etc.
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