Hamas said on Monday that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas won’t be able to visit the Gaza Strip unless he coordinates the visit in advance with the Islamist movement.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the Hamas government has not yet received any notification about Abbas’s intention to visit the Gaza Strip.

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He said that such a visit can’t be organized through the media.

Earlier this week, the PA’s official newspaper, Al-Ayyam, quoted Abbas as saying that he was “seriously” considering visiting the Gaza Strip.

“I often think of going there,” Abbas said. “But then I say perhaps it’s better to wait until we achieve reconciliation [with Hamas]. Yet it does occur to me sometimes to go there and I’m sure such a visit could help.”

Marzouk accuses Abbas of trying to help Israel

Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, accused Abbas of exploiting the issue of reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah to help Israel in the aftermath of last month’s flotilla aid ship incident.

“There are some who have started talking about reconciliation now to help Israel avoid international pressure to lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip,” Abu Marzouk said. “Some raised this issue out of good intentions, while others did so out of bad intentions.”

The Hamas official expressed his movement’s desire to launch talks with Fatah and other Palestinian factions to reach agreement over an Egyptian initiative to solve the crisis in the Palestinian arena.

He confirmed that Hamas has many reservations about the initiative, but said that all parties should place the Palestinians’ interests above other concerns.

Egypt has rejected Hamas’s demand to amend the reconciliation initiative. Last weekend, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that Cairo won’t make any changes in the plan and urged Hamas to accept it as Fatah has already done.

Hamas is worried that the initiative would lead to the return of PA security forces to the Gaza Strip and the dismantlement of its armed wing, Izaddin al-Kassam. Hamas is also opposed to placing the Rafah border crossing under the exclusive control of PA security forces, as was the case before the movement seized full control of the Gaza Strip about three years ago.

Abu Marzouk expressed regret over Egypt’s refusal to amend the initiative.

“We want the Egyptian sponsors to take into consideration the results of the [2006] election [that brought Hamas to power] and the Palestinians’ desire to pursue the resistance and extract their rights,” he said. “There is only one program that’s on the table now and that’s the resistance program.”

Hamas says PA arrested its supporters in West Bank

In a related development, Hamas accused the PA security forces of arresting 11 of its supporters in the West Bank in the past 24 hours.

Among those who were taken into custody was Khaled al-Haj, a prominent Hamas figure in Jenin who was released two months ago from Israeli prison.

Hamas said that among those arrested were two students and a lecturer from An-Najah University in Nablus. The students were identified as Mohammed Ghassan and Yehya Awaiseh, while the lecturer was named as Raed Hijjawi.

Salah Bardaweel, a Hamas legislator and spokesman in the Gaza Strip, said that the arrest of the top Hamas man in Jenin was one of many “crimes perpetrated by Fatah under the protection of occupation and [US Lt.-Gen. Keith] Dayton.”

He added that the ongoing crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank proved that Fatah was not really interested in achieving reconciliation.

Hamas, on the other hand, arrested Palestinian reporter Nasr Abu Ful and confiscated his personal computer. No reason was given for the arrest of the journalist.

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