(photo credit: REUTERS)
A senior Egyptian delegation is scheduled to visit Ramallah on Thursday in a last-ditch effort to avert a military confrontation in the Gaza Strip and end the Hamas-Fatah rift.
The delegation may also visit the Gaza Strip for talks with Hamas leaders, Palestinian sources said on Monday.
On the eve of the visit, Hamas said that Israeli threats to launch a military operation in the Gaza Strip in response to the continued violence along the border do not scare Palestinians. “The threats serve as an incentive for increased participation in the March of Return, its continuity and its development,” Hamas said in a statement.
The “March of Return
” is the name Hamas and other Palestinian factions have chosen for the weekly protests along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, which began last March.
Hamas said that instead of issuing “empty threats,” Israel should end its blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Hamas was responding to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s remarks on Sunday in which Israel would launch a “different” kind of response if the attacks from the Gaza Strip against Israel would not end.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad
Secretary-General Ziad al-Nakhalah said on Monday that his group was taking the Israeli threats seriously.
“We call on all the fighters to be fully prepared to confront a potential aggression,” he said. The Palestinians, he added, will not “bow to the threats. No one will be able to force the Palestinians to accept the blockade and aggression.”
The National Forum for the March of Return, a body that is coordinating and overseeing the weekly protests, called on the Palestinians on Monday to take part in next Friday’s demonstrations, which will be held under the banner “Gaza erupts.” In a statement, the group said that the Palestinians will not be “defeated by the weapons of the enemy.” It also called on the international community “to hold Israeli leaders and settlers accountable.”
Senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmed expressed hope that the Egyptian officials will carry “something practical” for ending the Hamas-Fatah rivalry. He said there was nothing new regarding Egyptian efforts to end the power struggle between the two rival parties.
“We are awaiting the arrival of the Egyptian delegation,” Ahmed told the PA’s Voice of Palestine radio station. “Dialogue for the sake of dialogue has become boring and ineffective. We are sick and tired of recurring proposals [for ending the Hamas-Fatah rift].”
The Fatah official repeated his faction’s demand that Hamas allow the Ramallah- based PA government to assume full responsibility over the Gaza Strip.
A PA official in Ramallah said that the Egyptian delegation, which may be headed by Egypt’s Mukhabarat (General Intelligence) leader Kamel Abbas, will try to persuade the PA leadership to refrain from imposing additional sanctions on the Gaza Strip.
Abbas is reported to have threatened to halt all PA funding to the Gaza Strip if Hamas reaches a truce agreement with Israel and refuses to hand control over the coastal enclave to his government. The Egyptians fear that such a move would further aggravate the situation in the Gaza Strip and trigger another military confrontation between Israel and Hamas.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>