(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas on Sunday criticized Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for not canceling punitive measures against the group including budget cuts for essential services in Gaza.
“PA President Mahmoud Abbas needs to make positive and responsible decisions to end all the measures,” Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement on the Islamist group’s official website.
“There are no longer any justifications for stalling or procrastination.”
The statement came a week after Hamas announced the dissolution of its governing body in the Gaza Strip, also known as the administrative committee, and invited the West Bank-based PA to take its place.
Over the past five months, Abbas has ordered a series of cuts to budgets allocated to Gaza for electricity, medical services, salaries of government employees and other purposes to pressure Hamas to dissolve its administrative committee and permit the PA to operate in its place.
Hamas has ruled Gaza since 2007 when it ousted the Fatah-dominated PA from the territory.
Abbas welcomed Hamas’s announcement at a meeting of the Fatah Central Committee on Saturday evening, but did not mention whether he planned to rescind the measures.
Abbas confidante Ahmad Majdalani said on Sunday that the PA president will end the measures when the PA government takes responsibility for Gaza.
“Without a doubt, the measures will be undone when the [PA] government takes over,” Majdalani said in a phone interview. “We don’t want to punish our government when it starts working there.”
Fatah and Hamas still have not reached an agreement regarding how the PA will take over Gaza.
In past reconciliation attempts, talks between the two parties collapsed over how the PA will assume responsibility for the Strip.
Fatah and Hamas officials are slated to meet in Cairo in the coming days to discuss reconciliation, including how the PA plans to take full responsibility for Gaza.
Separately, Majdalani said a meeting last week between Abbas and US President Donald Trump was “positive” and “good-spirited.”
“Trump reaffirmed his commitment to the peace process,” he said.
“He showed that he is serious about advancing peace.”
Majdalani added that the Palestinians expect Trump
to put forward a framework for renewing peace talks in the near future.
“We are waiting for him to lay out his vision,” he stated. “If his vision is going to be successful, it will need to include support for the two-state solution.”
The Palestinians have been calling on the Trump administration to back the two-state solution but Trump and his advisers have resisted. They also have refrained from rebuking Israel for settlement building.
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