Egypt not opposed to letting Qatar pay Hamas salaries, despite PA concerns

Sources pointed out that Egypt had not opposed in the past the delivery of Qatari funds to the Gaza Strip.

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November 4, 2018 16:34
4 minute read.
Gaza Qatar

Palestinians take part in a rally in support of Qatar, inside Qatari-funded construction project 'Hamad City', in the southern Gaza Strip, June 9, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS/IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA)

 
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Egypt is not opposed to Qatar’s intention to pay salaries to Hamas employees in the Gaza Strip, informed Palestinian sources said on Sunday.

Egyptian intelligence officials recently told Hamas leaders representatives of other Gaza-based terrorist groups that Cairo believes that the Qatari initiative would contribute to stability and calm and facilitate efforts to achieve a truce with Israel, the sources told the Palestinian daily Al-Quds.

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Egypt, the sources said, was keen on improving the living conditions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as long as the aid is done under the supervision of the United Nations.

The sources pointed out that Egypt had not opposed in the past the delivery of Qatari funds to the Gaza Strip.

Several Arab media outlets have published in the past few days details of what they called the draft of the proposed truce between Hamas and Israel.

According to the unconfirmed reports, the proposed deal calls for an end to the violent demonstrations along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, expanding the fishing zone, reopening the border crossings and allowing thousands of Palestinians to work in Israel.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who met in Sharm al-Sheikh last weekend with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi, is reported to have expressed concern over Qatar’s initiative to pay salaries to Hamas employees as part of a truce accord with Israel. Abbas and PA officials in Ramallah recently lashed out at Qatar for purchasing fuel from Israel for the power plant in the Gaza Strip. They claimed that the Qatari move would embolden Hamas and “consolidate” the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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A PA official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that Abbas relayed to Sisi his concern over Qatar’s “continued meddling in the internal affairs of the Palestinians.” Abbas also voiced concern over Hamas’s apparent readiness to reach a truce with Israel, the official said.

“President Abbas made it clear to President Sisi that Hamas was not authorized to reach any deal with Israel,” the official added. “Hamas is just another Palestinian faction. The only party that is authorized to reach agreements on behalf of the Palestinians is the PLO the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians.”

According to the official, Abbas also repeated during the meeting with Sisi his demand that Hamas allow the Ramallah-based PA government to assume full responsibility over the Gaza Strip, especially in the security field. Hamas has categorically rejected Abbas’s demand that disarm or relinquish security control over the Gaza Strip.

Another senior PA official in Ramallah expressed concern over reports that Hamas and Israel were close to reaching understandings over a truce. The official claimed that any truce accord would facilitate the implementation of US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East, which is also referred to as the “deal of the century.”

The PA leadership claims that Trump’s unseen plan aims at separating the West Bank from the Gaza Strip.

The officials said that although the reported understandings were mainly focused on humanitarian issue, they have “grave political repercussions.” The Gaza Strip is part of the lands of the Palestinian state, the official said. “As such, any deal concerning the Gaza Strip should be reached only through the Palestinian Authority and its government.”

Sources close to Hamas confirmed on Sunday that progress has been made towards reaching a truce with Israel. The sources noted, however, that Egyptian efforts to end the ongoing dispute between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah faction have not made any progress.

Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzouk was quoted on Sunday as saying that the PA was not interested in “real reconciliation” with Hamas. He said that the sanctions imposed by the PA government on the Gaza Strip have aggravated the crisis there. The sanctions, he added, include cutting off financial support to needy families and suspending payment of salaries to thousands of civil servants, as well as refusal to pay for fuel and electricity supplies.

“We don’t want to be dragged into another war,” Abu Marzouk told Egyptian journalist Jihan Husseini. “The price of the truce includes finding solutions to the problems of the Gaza Strip and ending Abbas’s sanctions, as well as lifting the blockade.” He said that despite the difficulties, the Egyptians were pushing their efforts to achieve a truce with Israel and end the Hamas-Fatah rift.

Hamas spokesman Hazel Qassem on Sunday accused the PA of seeking to thwart efforts to end the humanitarian and economic crisis in the Gaza Strip. He warned that the PA sanctions on the Gaza Strip will “enhance” Israeli and US efforts to separate the West Bank from the Gaza Strip. “The Palestinian Authority’s attacks on these efforts reflects its desire to prolong the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip,” the Hamas spokesman argued.

Israel's security cabinet on Sunday agreed to continue to focus on efforts to maintain calm, through humanitarian gestures such as the Qatari funded fuel and the use of Qatari funds to pay for the salaries of civil servants in Gaza as long as the money was not diverted to terrorism. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman stated his well known opposition to this stance and argued for a harsh military blow against Hamas.

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