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Hamas still not ready for reconciliation: Fatah

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has called 2014 "the year of Palestinian reconciliation", but Fatah says Hamas is not offered dates for talks
Hamas and Fatah agreed to form a unity government in 2012, but terms of the agreement were never implemented

A Fatah official has said that the Gaza-based Hamas movement is not ready to end divisions in light of its alleged failure to provide a date for a planned visit by a Fatah delegation ostensibly tasked with fostering reconciliation.

"The idea of ending the rift doesn't seem to have matured on Hamas's part," Azzam al-Ahmed, responsible for inter-Palestinian reconciliation, told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

"Hamas hasn't made the conscious decision to end divisions due to its affiliation with the international Muslim Brotherhood organization," al-Ahmed said.

Last week, a Fatah spokesman said a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) delegation would soon head to Gaza to discuss possible means of ending the years-long rift between the two rival movements.

At the time, however, Hamas had said it was unaware of the proposed visit.

Fatah's al-Ahmed, for his part, said Hamas had not provided members of the Fatah delegation with a date on which to conduct their visit to Gaza.

"I have contacted [Hamas] cadres in Gaza, Doha and Beirut, but I'm still awaiting a response," al-Ahmed said.

In February, several Fatah leaders visited Gaza and talked with Hamas officials.

The visit came after Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh announced that 2014 would be "the year of Palestinian reconciliation," saying that Fatah members who fled the Gaza Strip in 2007 – when Hamas seized control of the coastal enclave – were welcome to return, except for those charged with wrongdoing.

In 2007, Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip routed troops loyal to Fatah and Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and seized control of the territory.

Continued conflict between Hamas and Fatah, the latter of which holds the PA presidency, obliged Hamasto set up its own government in Gaza, while Fatah did the same in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

In 2011, the two factions hammered out a reconciliation deal under Egyptian sponsorship. The following year, the two sides agreed to form a unity government headed up by Abbas to pave the way for parliamentary polls.

The terms of the agreement, however, were never implemented.

Despite their vast differences, particularly over the contentious issue of holding peace talks with Israel, both governments continue to coordinate with each other, especially in the education and health sectors.

Hamas is an ideological offshoot of Egypt's 86-year-old Muslim Brotherhood group.