JERUSALEM //A proposal by Fatah to retain Salam Fayyad as caretaker prime minister before elections next year was rejected yesterday by its rival Hamas in another setback to efforts to form a Palestinian unity government.
The central committee of the West Bank's ruling Fatah faction on Saturday chose Mr Fayyad for the position in the interim government that is being negotiated as part of a reconciliation deal struck last month between Hamas and Fatah.
Mr Fayyad has enjoyed international support since his appointment in 2007 as the Palestinian Authority's prime minister, and his departure could undermine relations with donor nations.
Hamas officials, who want a Gazan in the position, quickly spurned the Fatah's decision, on the grounds of Mr Fayyad's US-trained security services' role in the arrest of scores of Hamas members in the West Bank.
"It is certain that we will not accept Fayyad either as the head of the government or as a minister in that government because of the four years of siege, arrests and torture of Hamas leaders and members linked to the name of Salam Fayyad," Hamas member Salah Bardawil said in a statement. "Reconciliation for us in Hamas is a strategic goal we will seek to achieve by all means possible, but there are red lines that we cannot agree to cross."
Hamas and Fatah have been feuding since Hamas overthrew Fatah in Gaza in 2007.
The most recent spat comes as the factions prepare to meet in Cairo tomorrow to finalise the unity government which will govern until national elections are held.
The two sides have missed several deadlines aimed at forming the government since agreeing in Cairo on May 4 to end their dispute.