The crisis in Egypt has aggravated tensions between Fatah and Hamas, dashing
hopes of reconciliation between the rival Palestinian parties.
Fatah supports the military coup that toppled the Muslim Brotherhood regime,
Hamas has come out in favor of deposed president Mohamed Morsi.
Friday’s prayers at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, hundreds of Muslims staged a
demonstration in support of Morsi.
Hoisting Hamas flags, they chanted
slogans against Egyptian Defense Minister Abdul Fatah al-Sisi and the US. They
also posted a large portrait of Morsi at the entrance to the Aksa Mosque. The
demonstration drew sharp criticism from Fatah and Palestinian Authority
Shortly after the demonstration, PA President Mahmoud Abbas
phoned Sisi and Egyptian interim President Adly Mansour and told them he was
opposed to any attempt to meddle in Egypt’s internal affairs.
Kana, near Nazareth, on Saturday, more than 2,000 supporters of the Islamic
Movement demonstrated against the overthrow of Morsi.
The head of the
northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Raed Saleh, told the
demonstrators that those who acted against Morsi were also operating against
Jerusalem, the Aksa Mosque and Palestine.
Abbas, who was one of the first
Arab leaders to congratulate the Egyptians on the coup, is worried that the
demonstration on the Temple Mount would cause further damage to relations
between Egypt and the Palestinians, a PA official in Ramallah
“Hamas’s meddling in Egypt’s internal affairs has already caused
extensive damage to our relations with the Egyptians,” the official
“We respect the choice of the Egyptian people, who decided to
remove their president for their own reasons.”
Fatah spokesman Ahmed
Assaf accused supporters of Hamas and the Islamic Movement in Israel of being
behind Friday’s pro-Morsi, anti-US demonstration. He also criticized Israeli
authorities for failing to prevent it, saying it took place “under the watchful
eye” of the Israeli authorities.
“How were the Hamas supporters able to
bring all the big placards and flags into the compound of the Aksa Mosque at a
time when all the worshipers were being subjected to thorough searches by the
occupation soldiers?” Assaf asked.
“Chanting slogans against the Egyptian
people and army harms the interests of our people and their cause,” he argued. “The protest does
not represent Jerusalem and its residents.”
The Fatah spokesman insisted
that only a “few dozen” Hamas supporters had taken part in the protest, but
warned that the Islamic group’s continued intervention in Egypt’s internal
affairs could see the Palestinians “enter a dark tunnel.”
Hamas and the Islamic Movement in Israel of exploiting Jerusalem and the Aksa
Mosque for “factional interests.”
Jamal Nazzal, a senior Fatah
representative, also condemned the pro-Morsi demonstration, dubbing it a
“provocation” and claiming that those behind it were followers of Abu Jahl (died
624 CE), one of the polytheist pagan Qurayshi figures known for his hostility
toward the Prophet Muhammad and Islam.
“These are irresponsible and
provocative actions that demonstrate a lack of sensitivity toward the holiness
of the site,” Nazzal remarked.
“What about the feelings of the worshipers
who don’t support this act? The people of Abu Jahl want to torch the earth on
their way to the abyss.”
PA Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Adnan Husseini
said that the tens of thousands of Muslims who attended Friday prayers on the
Temple Mount voiced opposition to the presence of the pro-Morsi
“The worshipers came with one message,” Husseini
“Our people are resisting the occupation and nothing else,
Jerusalem is an Arab city and our people are here and will stay on this land
Another PA official, Minister for Wakf Affairs Mahmoud Habbash,
condemned Hamas for using the Temple Mount as a platform to criticize the
“What we witnessed at the Aksa Mosque compound on Friday
is an attempt by Hamas-affiliated elements to involve the Palestinians in the
internal affairs of Egypt,” Habbash said. “This is a miserable and unacceptable
attempt that contradicts the position of the Palestinian
Habbash called on Hamas to “reassess” its policies, adding
that the majority of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip did not support the
Hamas, meanwhile, accused the PA and Fatah of exploiting the
crisis in Egypt to incite Egyptians and other Arabs against the Islamist
movement in the Gaza Strip.
The group said it had obtained evidence that
top Fatah and PA officials had been feeding the Egyptian media “lies and
fabrications,” with the aim of driving a wedge between the movement and
“Fatah’s incitement against Hamas in the Egyptian media is
shameful and undignified,” said Ibrahim al-Madhoun, a Hamas-affiliated political
analyst. “This incitement will have a negative impact not only on Hamas, but
also on the entire Palestinian people.”
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail
Haniyeh said over the weekend that “involving Hamas in the Egyptian crisis
serves only the Israeli occupation and causes damage to the
Haniyeh added that the claims that his movement had been
meddling in the internal affairs of Egypt were “baseless and
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.