Senator Eric Abetz – Estimates question about the power-sharing agreement between Fatah and Hamas

photo of Senator Eric Abetz
October 20, 2011

Questioned whether Hamas would need to amend its charter to enter into a power-sharing arrangement with Fatah.

I would like to know what the official view is of the agreement and therefore I ask again: is it the view of the government or the department that the power-sharing agreement between Fatah and Hamas to jointly run the Palestinian Authority requires Hamas to amend its charter?

Whole interaction with Mr David Stuart (First Assistant Secretary, South and West Asia and Middle East Division, DFAT) during Senate Estimates (Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio).

Senator ABETZ: Going to the Middle East, I was kindly provided with an answer to question on notice 67 from the last budget estimates. Whilst personally not wanting to read and interpret documents myself, I asked whether the power-sharing agreement between Fatah and Hamas to jointly run the Palestinian Authority requires Hamas to amend its charter. I was referred to an answer by Mr Stuart, and the suggestion was made that I might want to read the agreement. I do not want to rely on my interpretation of the agreement. I would like to know what the official view is of the agreement and therefore I ask again: is it the view of the government or the department that the power-sharing agreement between Fatah and Hamas to jointly run the Palestinian Authority requires Hamas to amend its charter?

 

Mr Stuart: The agreement has, in effect, not succeeded. The key piece of it was forming what they called a technocratic interim government to prepare for elections next year. Hamas and Fatah were not able to agree on the composition of that technocratic government so the previously existing situation, which is that the Palestinian Authority remains the executive in those territories, applies now.

 

Senator ABETZ: The actual agreement, the document, may not have come to practical fruition. I am talking about the written document. As I understand it, there was a written agreement between the two groups, Fatah and Hamas.

 

Mr Stuart: I am not sure that we have seen one. I am not sure, and I will take it on notice, whether there exists a written agreement. I have seen an announcement but I am not sure that an announcement is the same thing as the agreement. I will check.

 

Senator ABETZ: I refer you to the answer that I was provided with in writing. The last paragraph says: The honourable Senator may also wish to refer to the Agreement between Fatah and Hamas of 3 May 2011, the text of which is available publicly.

 

Mr Stuart: All I am saying is that I do not know whether there is anything beyond the public document and I will have to go and check.

 

Senator ABETZ: What I am wanting is an interpretation of that public document to which you referred, and I want to know whether it is correct to assert, about that public document, that Hamas would need to amend its charter.

 

Mr Stuart: I will take that on notice, Senator.

 

Senator ABETZ: And we do the full circle, and I will await a further written response. Undoubtedly, events by then will have completely superseded us. But thank you.

Link to full Hansard transcript (Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio (20 October 2011).

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