Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas invited Hamas to join his cabinet to help ensure a peaceful handover of the Gaza Strip this summer, Abbas’s office confirmed on Saturday.
Earlier reports suggested Hamas was ready to work with the Palestinian Authority on Israel’s withdrawal.
However, Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas’s spokesman told Aljazeera he had been misquoted.
“I was quoted wrongly. I did not say the Hamas movement welcomed, nor rejected, the idea of a national unity government. I said that the idea of ‘referential formula’, where all Palestinians participate, is initially a good idea and we should find a way to achieve this,” Abu Zuhri said.
Abbas has invited Hamas to join
He said the referential formula needed to be discussed and agreed upon.
“Hamas movement has previously called for forming a national committee, where all Palestinian forces and the authority participate,” Abu Zuhri said.
“The proposed committee is meant to represent a management that oversees public properties and lands, from which the Israeli occupation may withdraw,” he said.
On Saturday, Hamas’s West Bank leader, Hassan Yousef, confirmed the group was considering Abbas’s offer.
Abbas extended the offer on Wednesday after Hamas demanded a special committee be formed to oversee the transfer of powers in Gaza. Abbas invited them to join his cabinet instead.
“Actually, we have not welcomed nor rejected Fatah’s call. We are studying it”
Sami Abu Zuhri,
Abu Zuhri said Hamas has not announced an acceptance to the offer.
“Hamas will announce its stance towards participating in a national unity government at the proper time,” he said.
In response, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said Israel sees the group as “part of the problem and not as part of any sort of solution” and reiterated Israel‘s demand that Abbas dismantle it.
“We believe that the best way to deal with Hamas is to disarm them, delegitimise them and disqualify them,” Regev said.
Israel says it is worried that Abbas’s government is not strong enough to prevent what it calls chaos in Gaza after Israel completes the pullout in September.
Abbas has promised a smooth transfer of power and a clampdown on fighters if they fire on withdrawing Israeli soldiers and settlers.