(photo credit: AP [file])
Hamas is planning to overthrow the Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank with the help of external forces, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday.
Meanwhile, Fatah officials in Ramallah revealed that some Hamas leaders had received financial aid from former PA chairman Yasser Arafat. Documents released by the officials showed that the Hamas leaders had received thousands of dollars from Arafat in the 1990s.
"We have information that Hamas is planning to copy the Gaza coup in the West Bank," Abbas said. "It's no secret that international parties are supporting Hamas in its efforts."
Although Abbas did not name the international parties, his aides told The Jerusalem Post he was referring to Iran, Syria and Qatar.
Abbas expressed confidence that Hamas's plan would fail. He also expressed readiness to resume talks with Hamas after the Islamist movement relinquishes control over the Gaza Strip.
"Hamas is an integral part of the Palestinian people and we are prepared to talk to them if they cede control over the Gaza Strip," Abbas said. "But we know that Hamas can't make decisions on its own because of political and economic pressure from outside forces."
Abbas said Hamas was talking with Israel. He said that although he was not opposed to such talks, Hamas leaders must openly admit that they were talking to Israel.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum denied that his movement was planning to stage a coup against Abbas's government. He said the charges were aimed at covering up for the "crimes" committed by Abbas's "militias" against Hamas supporters and figures in the West Bank.
Barhoum said Hamas was "forced to take security measures in the Gaza Strip to stop Abbas's forces from carrying out the Zionist-American plot to overthrow the democratically elected government."
Fatah spokesman Ahmed Abdel Rahman said Sunday that Hamas's "coup" in the Gaza Strip had undermined the Palestinian cause in the international and Arab arenas. He denied that Hamas and Fatah were conducting secret negotiations to end the conflict, but said some Arab and Islamic countries had been mediating between the two parties.
Abdel Rahman said there were growing signs the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were unhappy with the Hamas rule. He said Hamas's actions in the Gaza Strip had alienated many Palestinians, who were publicly criticizing the Hamas government.
The Fatah official, who also serves as an adviser to Abbas, said a PA delegation was expected to visit Damascus soon in a bid to persuade the Syrians to ban a meeting organized by radical Palestinian groups to protest against the upcoming US-sponsored peace conference.
According to documents published by Fatah officials, several Hamas members who had formed a new party called the National Islamic Salvation Party received $50,000 a month from Arafat. The party, which is an offshoot of Hamas, was headed by Yahya Musa, who today serves as a Hamas legislator in the Palestinian Legislative Council.
According to the documents, some of Hamas's current leaders and spokesmen had also received $5,000 each from Arafat. The money was given to them after they wrote letters to Arafat seeking financial aid.