PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday protested to Egypt over a visit by Ismail
Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.
Monday, Haniyeh met in Cairo with Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil. It was
his second visit since the election of President Mohamed Morsy.
leader Khaled Mashaal arrived in Cairo earlier this week for talks with Egyptian
government officials on ways of boosting relations between the two sides,
representatives of the Islamist movement said.
On Tuesday, Abbas and his
top aide, Tayeb Abdel Rahim, summoned the Egyptian envoy to Ramallah, Yasser
Othman, and protested against the invitation of Haniyeh. A Palestinian Authority
official quoted Abbas as telling Othman that the Egyptians were making a big
mistake by dealing with Haniyeh as if he were the legitimate Palestinian prime
Abbas also warned the Egyptians that dealing with Haniyeh would
solidify Palestinian divisions and “play into the hands of the Palestinians’
enemies,” the official said.
Earlier this month, Abbas threatened to
boycott the Non-Aligned Movement conference in Tehran after learning that the
Iranians had invited Haniyeh to attend the gathering.
Salam Fayyad, prime
minister of the PA government in the West Bank, appealed to Haniyeh to reject
the invitation so as not to create the impression that the Palestinians had two
The Gaza prime minister subsequently announced that he
would not travel to Tehran.
The PA’s official news agency, Wafa, quoted
Egyptian envoy Othman as assuring Abbas that Cairo remained committed to the
“oneness of Palestinian representation” despite the invitation of
“The Egyptian ambassador affirmed his country’s keenness on
easing the blockade on the Gaza Strip and stressed the importance of keeping the
Gaza Strip part of the Palestinians’ geographic and political unity and the
future Palestinian state,” the agency reported.
PA leaders claimed
recently that Hamas was planning to declare an independent Palestinian state in
the Gaza Strip.
PLO Executive Committee member Saleh Ra’fat on Tuesday
accused the Egyptians of encouraging Hamas to go ahead with its plan to isolate
the enclave from the West Bank.
Commenting on Haniyeh’s invitation to
Cairo in his capacity as prime minister, Ra’fat said that by holding political,
security and economic discussions with Hamas leaders, the Egyptians were
“sending the wrong message to Hamas” and encouraging it to avoid fulfilling the
Doha reconciliation accord with Fatah.
Ra’fat claimed that the Egyptians
were helping “fulfill [former prime minister] Ariel Sharon’s dream of creating a
Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip while maintaining occupation of the West
Bank.” He added that Abbas was the only legitimate and elected leader of the
Palestinians, and pointed out that Abbas had fired Haniyeh from his post as
prime minister after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.
PA representative to Cairo, Barakat al-Farra, said Hamas had not been authorized
to sign agreements with other countries, including Egypt. He said agreements
were signed between two countries, and not between a country and a political
Farra was commenting on reports about a Hamas-Egypt agreement to
establish a freetrade zone along their shared border.