A senior official from Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' ruling Fatah movement said on Monday that despite Western insistence that his party is "moderate," while Hamas is an extremist movement, on a practical level there are few differences between the two Palestinian factions.
Abbas advisor and former Gaza warlord Mohammed Dahlan told a Kuwaiti news agency that Fatah and Hamas see eye-to-eye on the ultimate goal vis-à-vis Israel, and noted that both movements are products of the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organization.
US President George W. Bush was widely quoted following a 2003 Middle East summit as telling then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice that he liked Dahlan, and felt the US could work with him.
But both the US and Israel insist a final status peace agreement cannot be reached if there is reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, which remains openly dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state.
Nevertheless, the two groups continue to ignore the American and Israeli warnings, and, according to regional Arab press reports this week, have moved closer to settling their feud. Representatives from both sides are said to be holding ongoing secret talks in the Gaza Strip, Damascus and Beirut, and overall Hamas leader Khaled Mashal told a London-based Arabic newspaper that his group is prepared to return control of Gaza to Abbas' Palestinian Authority.