A Palestinian woman supporting Hamas takes part in a rally marking the 30th anniversary of Hamas' founding, in Gaza City December 14, 2017.
(photo credit: SUHAIB SALEM / REUTERS)
The Palestinian Authority government on Tuesday called on Hamas to transfer full control of the Gaza Strip to it “all at once.”
Hamas has controlled Gaza since ousting the PA from the territory in 2007.
“[The government] called on Hamas to hand over the Gaza Strip all at once and affirmed its readiness to take full responsibility [for it],” the official PA news site Wafa reported.
The PA government made the statement a day after PA President Mahmoud Abbas suggested he would cut all budgets allocated to Gaza if the PA does not take full control of the coastal territory.
“If everything is in our hands, we will take full responsibility [for Gaza]. If everything is not in our hands, they will have to take full responsibility for everything [in Gaza],” Abbas said in a 20-minute speech at the PA presidential headquarters in Ramallah.
He did not say when Hamas would have to take full responsibility for Gaza if it does not hand over control of the territory to the PA.
However, a senior PLO official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity on Tuesday, said any decision to cut PA budgets to Gaza “will take time to implement.”
The PA spends $100 million in Gaza monthly, according Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.
A Gaza-based Hamas official said the statements Abbas made in his speech on Monday “are undermining the reconciliation process between Hamas and Fatah and efforts to end the division between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”
“What he said is in violation of the reconciliation agreement we signed with Fatah in Cairo in October. While we are willing to work with President Abbas in partnership on implementing that agreement, we will not accept him imposing a flawed understanding of it on us,” the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Jerusalem Post
Fatah and Hamas signed an agreement in Cairo on October 12 to advance reconciliation efforts and restore the PA’s governing authority in Gaza, but have failed to implement it.
The Hamas official also said that if Abbas implements a decision to cut PA budgets allocated to Gaza, he hoped Arab, European and other foreign governments would directly deliver aid to the coastal enclave.
“They could send the aid through UNRWA or other international institutions,” he said. “If Abbas implements more sanctions, the international community needs to act.”
While some of the PA’s budget is made up of international aid, most of it is composed of taxes that it and Israel collect from Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.