Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to visit the Gaza Strip in the next few days, Fatah leader Azzam al-Ahmed said on Thursday.

“Surprises are expected during the coming week,” Ahmed, who signed the reconciliation agreement with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Wednesday, said, without elaborating.

The Fatah official said that preparations were under way to arrange Abbas’s visit to the Gaza Strip, which would be the first of its kind since Hamas took control of the area in 2007.

A senior PA official in Ramallah said, however, it was premature to talk about a visit to Gaza by Abbas. The official said he did not rule out the possibility that Abbas would eventually visit the Strip as part of consultations to form a Palestinian unity government.

Meanwhile the PA leadership is studying “all options” in response to Israel’s decision to suspend the peace talks following the signing of the reconciliation accord between Hamas and Fatah.

Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat told AFP that the Palestinian people’s priority now was to achieve reconciliation and national unity.

Erekat condemned Israel’s decision to withhold tax revenues belonging to the PA as “theft and piracy.”

Earlier, he expressed disappointment over Israel’s reaction to the Hamas-Fatah deal.

The Israeli government had used Palestinian division as an excuse not to reach a peace agreement with the PA, he said.

Now, Israel wants to use Palestinian reconciliation for the same reason.

“This is silly,” Erekat said. “The only logical explanation is that the government of [Prime Minister] Binyamin Netanyahu does not want peace. National reconciliation is imperative to achieve a just and comprehensive and ever-lasting peace.”

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