Police attack 80 demonstrators and arrest 13 in rally organized by Abbas's Fatah party
Abbas threatens to break up unity government
Palestinian leader slams Hamas on its conduct during the Gaza war, says it must cede control of the Strip
The war in Gaza has ended and as normalcy returns to the Palestinian street so do the old grudges and political disagreements between the Palestinian Authority, which rules the West Bank, and Hamas in the Strip. The future of the Palestinian unity government seems to be cloudier than ever at this point.
On Saturday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has regained some confidence since the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas has unexpectedly propelled him back to center stage, warned Hamas that the current partnership between the group and the Palestinian Authority would not last if the situation in Gaza does not improve and Hamas accepts Ramallah's demands.
Abbas, who is on a three-day visit to Cairo for meetings with Arab League foreign ministers and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said that Hamas must cede control of the Gaza Strip to the unity government. “We won’t accept the continuation of the situation with Hamas as it is now and in this shape,” he said. “There must be one authority and one regime."
Abbas accused Hamas of running its own “shadow government” in the Gaza Strip. “They have 27 directors-general of ministries and they are running the Gaza Strip,” he said. “The national consensus government can’t do anything on the ground.”
Hamas-Fatah dialogue suspended?
Fatah officials recently warned that if Hamas did not cede control of the Gaza Strip to the unity government, Abbas’s presidential guard forces would not deploy along the Gaza borders and the crossings would remain closed. Egypt has said it would not open the Rafah border crossing as long as it was controlled by Hamas.
Abbas also noted that 400,000 Palestinians are now homeless in Gaza and asked sarcastically: "Who is going to take care of them and give them their homes back?"
Abbas accused Hamas of inflating the number of casualties the group suffered during Operation Protective Edge. "Hamas says the number of dead from their ranks didn't go past 50, when in actuality over 850 Hamas members and their family members were killed."
Speaking about the execution of "collaborators" with Israel that Hamas committed in Gaza, Abbas added "Hamas conducted atrocities during the war in Gaza, also at its end when it executed 120 people without trial because they breached the curfew placed on them."
The PA chairman also confirmed reports of a meeting he had with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashal in Qatar on August 21, in which he slammed the Hamas leader for his organization's coup attempt against Abbas in the West Bank.
"You are smuggling weapons, explosives and money to the (West) Bank - and not to fight Israel, but to hold a coup against the (Palestinian) Authority," Abbas reportedly said.
Egyptian news website al-Dostor reported that Abbas will make an announcement on Sunday to the Arab League that he is suspending talks with Hamas until his demands are met.
Hamas, in response to the criticism, said Saturday that the Palestinian Authority had stepped up arrests of the group’s members and supporters, Israel Radio reported.
According to Hamas media, in the past ten days PA security forces have arrested around 40 Hamas men, some of them released prisoners and family members of senior Hamas officials, with 30 others summoned for questioning.
The subject of the failed peace negotiations between the PA and Israel was also discussed in Cairo Saturday.
The head of the Arab League said that Abbas is ready for “real negotiations” with Israel. In an interview with London-based Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat Nabil el-Araby said, “He [Abbas] is open to the importance of the renewal of real negotiations.”
According to Israeli site Ynet, Araby added that “if not, then there will be another way to manage the conflict. Real negotiations demand agreement on the principles established in international resolutions, such as the ’67 borders, East Jerusalem, and security for the two sides. When there is agreement on these three issues, it will be possible to reach an agreement in a week, not in a number of months."
In related news, Israeli daily Haaretz reported Sunday the Foreign Ministry submitted a classified document to the security cabinet containing a proposal for stationing an international force in the Gaza Strip to monitor rehabilitation and prevent the rearming of Hamas and other terror groups. The two-page document, entitled “Principles and Parameters for Deployment of an International Force in Gaza,” was reportedly given to the ministers of the security cabinet on August 21.
A senior Foreign Ministry official told Haaretz that Egypt will have to be a key partner to all discussion of an international force in Gaza, and that coordination with Egypt is critical in this matter.