Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas arrives for an Arab League Foreign Ministers emergency meeting at the league's headquarters in Cairo.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Arab League on Sunday ordered journalists to leave a meeting of its foreign ministers in Cairo shortly after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas started addressing the session.
No reason was given for the decision, which also led to the suspension of the live broadcast of the speech. It was also not clear who gave the order to turn the session into a closed meeting.
Before the session was closed to media, Abbas started his speech by talking about the “coup” that Hamas staged in the Gaza Strip against the PA in 2007. He pointed out that attempts to achieve reconciliation between his Fatah faction and Hamas had failed over the years.
Abbas noted that the first attempt to end the Fatah- Hamas conflict was launched in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
At this point, only about 30 seconds into Abbas’s speech, an Arab League official walked up to the PA president and handed him a note that asked him to stop his speech until journalists were removed from the meeting hall.
Earlier, reports in several Egyptian media outlets quoted Abbas as saying he was planning to declare the end of the PA reconciliation pact with Hamas at the Arab League gathering.
At a meeting with Egyptian media representatives in Cairo Saturday night, Abbas said his partnership with Hamas couldn’t continue as long as the situation in the Gaza Strip remains unchanged. Abbas accused Hamas of running its own “shadow government” in the Gaza Strip through 27 directors-general who were managing various ministries.
“The Palestinian national consensus government can’t do anything on the ground,” Abbas complained, referring to the government that was established following the reconciliation deal with Hamas.
Abbas also scoffed at Hamas’s claim that it had won the war with Israel.
“Which victory are they talking about?” he asked.
He also ridiculed Hamas’s rocket attacks at Israel during the war.
“They fired 4,000 rockets that killed three Israelis,” Abbas said.
He said Hamas eventually and unconditionally accepted the same Egyptian cease-fire agreement it was offered at the beginning of Operation Protective Edge. Abbas noted that when the cease-fire proposal was first offered, the number of Palestinians who had been killed in the war was 180.
Abbas was also quoted during the meeting with Egyptian journalists as saying that the Fatah Central Committee has decided to suspend all contacts with Hamas until the movement agrees to have one authority that represents all Palestinians.
“If Hamas does not accept the establishment of a Palestinian state with one government, one law and one weapon, there will be no partnership between us,” he explained.
Abbas also demanded the PA be the only party responsible for making any decision to declare war or sign a peace agreement with Israel.
Abbas came to Cairo to seek the backing of the Arab League for his new peace initiative, which envisages the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines in not more than three years.
Before the Arab League session, Abbas held talks in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi on the peace plan and the latest developments in the region, according to a Palestinian official.