Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (R) talks with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday threatened to gradually cut all funding to the Gaza Strip until Hamas agreed to reconcile with Fatah.
He declared his intentions during a meeting in Ramallah with Meretz head Zehava Gal- On, whose office later reported his statement.
“We transfer $1.5 billion a year [to Hamas in Gaza],” he said, adding that he had already cut 25% of that amount.
Abbas is in the midst of a push to regain control of Gaza, a decade after Hamas took over the Strip from Fatah in a bloody coup.
He has imposed a series of stiff economic sanctions, including reduced funding for electricity.
Abbas told Gal-On that if the situation with Hamas did not change soon, “we’ll gradually reduce our [financial] support to Gaza by 100%.”
Hamas’s actions could drive a wedge between Gaza and the West Bank, Abbas warned. Both the PA and the international community have insisted that the final borders of a Palestinian state must include both the West Bank and Gaza, but achieving such an outcome will be difficult unless the rift between the two groups is healed.
The absence of reconciliation has created distrust in the Palestinian leadership, Abbas said.
Gal-On urged Abbas to find a way to reconcile with Hamas without taking steps that punished the civilian population in Gaza.