Hamas members and Abbas.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A Hamas official on Monday slammed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for not lifting sanctions he placed on the Gaza Strip, despite reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah advancing with the signing of an agreement to restore the PA ’s governing authority in Gaza.
Over the past five months, Abbas has gradually slashed the PA budget allocated to Gaza for electricity, medical supplies and other purposes in order to pressure Hamas to give up control of the Strip.
“The failure of [Palestinian] Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to respond affirmatively to the popular and national demands to cancel his arbitrary measures against our people in Gaza is unjustifiable and a clear denial of the demands of reconciliation,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum posted Monday on his Twitter account. “He must bear responsibility for exacerbating the people’s suffering and crises.”
Hamas had wanted Abbas to cancel the sanctions at a Fatah Central Committee meeting on Sunday, its first meeting since the agreement to restore the PA ’s governing authority in Gaza was signed, but a record of the meeting made no mention of the issue.
Fatah Spokesman Osama Qawasmeh on Monday suggested that the sanctions would be reversed after the PA is empowered to operate in Gaza.
“We agreed with Hamas in Cairo to enable the government to work. We need to make sure this is achieved,” Qawasmeh said when asked in a phone interview if the PA president plans to cancel the sanctions. “The government will be going to Gaza this week to evaluate the situation. Thereafter, it will send a report to the president [Abbas], who will make the appropriate decision.”
Hamas and Fatah agreed in Cairo that by December 1, 2017, the Fatah-dominated PA would take responsibility for Gaza in the same way that it does the West Bank.
The two parties still need to overcome several differences before the PA will be able to assume that responsibility.
For example, the parties have yet to determine the future of Gaza’s security sector. Abbas, who also serves as Fatah chairman, has said the PA must control Gaza’s security as well as all weapons there. Meanwhile, Hamas Politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh has said that while the PA should secure Gaza, dissolving Hamas’s armed wing is not up for discussion.
Hamas’s armed wing is comprised of some 25,000 members. It is said to possess tens of thousands of rockets and control a network of tunnels, some of which breach Israel’s border.
In a separate development on Monday, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and US President Donald Trump’s peace envoy Jason Greenblatt met in Ramallah to discuss Palestinian reconciliation efforts, the official PA news site Wafa reported.
Wafa did not report the details of their discussion on Palestinian reconciliation efforts.