In short, it is difficult to see how this declaration is different than the other unity declarations. Though, one difference is that compared to the May 2011 agreement, Abbas and Meshal actually signed the Doha Declaration.
While the agreement has garnered praise from Egypt, Islamic Jihad and others, a number of Hamas officials in Gaza have slammed the agreement. Hamas via the Palestinian Legislative Council has issued a document detailing the illegality of the move to make Abbas both President and Prime Minister.
The primary conclusion of the document is that
“The combination of the position of President of Palestinian National Authority and the prime minister involves a violation of the constitution, and is considered a violation of the constitutional amendments of 2003.”
While Hamas’ arguments seem sound, it appears that the Palestinian Authority has already failed to abide by the agreement.
According to the Doha Declaration, the Palestinian Authority was supposed to release 64 Hamas political prisoners. On Tuesday, Hamas slammed the Palestinian Authority over this, as they noted discrepancies between those released and the list that they obtained.
According to Hamas, 7 of the prisoners are still imprisoned. In addition, 2 of the prisoners were never imprisoned, while 7 prisoners had been released over 5 months ago. One of the prisoners was released when his sentence ended some time ago. Three of those released were only arrested for a single day. 35 of the released had been released on bail, thus, their cases are still subject to trial.
In addition to Hamas officials slamming the agreement, Fatah officials have criticized it. A senior Fatah official told The Jerusalem Post, similar to Hamas’ legal document, that:
“This is a scandal not only because it violates the [Palestinian] Basic Law, but also because it turns Abbas into an autocrat with absolute powers. This is unacceptable at a time when the Arab world is witnessing popular uprisings against dictators.”
“Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas congratulates the new prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, and invites him to meet with the chairman of the Fatah Central Committee, Mahmoud Abbas, under the auspices of the head of the PLO Executive Committee, Mahmoud Abbas, at the home of the Overall Commander of the Palestinian Armed Forces, Mahmoud Abbas.”
For those wondering whether Hamas has renounced violence with this new agreement, Hamas’ Izzat al-Rishq said yesterday that the agreement does not negate “armed resistance.”
“The Palestinian people maintain their right to all forms of resistance, and we are committed to armed resistance and the activation of popular resistance to confront the enemy, and we will not abandon any form of resistance at all.”