PA President Mahmoud Abbas looks on during a reception ceremony for Bulgarian President Rumen Radev in Ramallah, in the West Bank, March 22, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Hamas of obstructing the establishment of a Palestinian state, and hinted that he was planning new measures against the Gaza Strip.
Abbas, who was speaking during a rally in Ramallah on Sunday marking the 14th anniversary of the death of his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, also lashed out at the US and Israel because of US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East, which is also referred to as the “deal of the century.”
“There is an American conspiracy in the form of the deal of the century, and there is an Israeli conspiracy to implement the deal,” Abbas said. “Regrettably, there is another conspiracy by Hamas to obstruct the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.”
Abbas’s remark concerning Hamas is related to the continued effort by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations to achieve a truce agreement
between Hamas and Israel. Abbas has repeatedly accused Hamas of working with the US and Israel to establish a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip.
Abbas said that the PLO Central Council, a key decision-making body dominated by Abbas loyalists, has decided to make a series of “decisive decisions” in the coming days to determine the future of Palestinian relations with Hamas, Israel and the US.
“We won’t be afraid, and no one should blame us,” the PA president said in reference to the anticipated decisions.
Abbas did not provide further details regarding those decisions. However, he has been quoted in recent weeks as having threatened to impose additional sanctions on the Gaza Strip if Hamas reaches a truce agreement with Israel.
LAST MONTH, the PLO Central Council voted in favor of revoking Palestinian recognition of Israel and suspending security coordination between the PA security forces and Israel in the West Bank.
Abbas and the PA leadership have been boycotting the US administration since December 2017, when Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. They believe that the current efforts to achieve a truce in the Gaza Strip are in the context of Trump’s purported peace plan which, they claim, is aimed at detaching the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave from the West Bank and paving the way for the creation of a separate Palestinian state there.
The PA Foreign Ministry, in a statement on Sunday marking the anniversary of Arafat’s death, launched a scathing attack on the US and accused it of declaring war on the Palestinians
. The ministry vowed that Palestinians are determined to thwart all conspiracies being concocted against them by the US and Israel.
“There is an American siege, declared war and unprecedented measures against our people, their rights and their leaders,” the ministry charged, adding that the US measures include recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, relocating the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, halting US financial aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) and passing “anti-Palestinian laws in Congress.”
Mahmnoud al-Aloul, deputy chairman of Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction, criticized Qatar’s role in providing financial aid to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Referring to the $15 million in cash that were brought into the Gaza Strip last week by Qatari envoy Mohammed el-Amadi, he said that the Palestinians were opposed to any plan to separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank. The top Fatah official praised Palestinians who pelted the Qatari envoy’s convoy with stones near the border with Israel last Friday.
In response, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that his movement will not allow Trump’s “deal of the century” to pass. Abu Zuhri claimed that the main objective of the weekly protests along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel was to foil Trump’s upcoming plan. He also urged the PA to cut off all ties with Israel and the US.
Hazem Qassem, another Hamas spokesman in the Gaza Strip, expressed “regret” over Abbas’s statements, accusing him of rejecting attempts to end the Hamas-Fatah rift. Abbas’s statements, the Hamas spokesman said, “reflect his isolation. We were hoping that Abbas would make threats against the Israeli occupation, and not the Gaza Strip.”
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