Hamas officials on Tuesday condemned senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub’s threats to use force to end Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip, calling them “a direct threat to the Qatari efforts to end the division [between Fatah and Hamas].”

Rajoub, in an interview with the Egyptian news agency Asharq Alawsat, was quoted as saying there would be no more meetings between Fatah and Hamas officials in Qatar.

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Representatives of the two sides met recently in Qatar in yet another bid to end their dispute and reach an agreement to form a Palestinian unity government.

Rajoub ruled out the possibility that the talks would lead to a “reconciliation” agreement between the two parties.

“Unfortunately, we hear statements from Hamas that prove that it has not changed its policies and continues to speak in the same old language,” Rajoub said.

Rajoub, a member of the Fatah Central Committee and chairman of the Palestinian Football Association, threatened to take “decisive steps” to prevent Hamas from continuing to hold the Gaza Strip hostage.

He did not say what Fatah would do to restore control over Gaza.

Rajoub did say, however, that if efforts to end the Hamas-Fatah dispute failed, the Fatah leadership would resort to “other methods and come up with scenarios to end the division.”

Taher a-Nunu, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, expressed shock over Rajoub’s threats, fearing they might reflect official Fatah policy.

“These shocking statements require an immediate clarification from the Fatah leadership,” the Hamas official said. “If true, these statements destroy all efforts to achieve reconciliation.”

Another Hamas official, Salah Bardawil, said Rajoub’s threats have “completely destroyed the Qatari mediation efforts” between the two parties.

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