Members of a Palestinian family warm themselves by a fire at the remains of their house that witnesses said was destroyed by Israeli shelling.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said on Sunday the dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority was hindering efforts to reconstruct the Gaza Strip.
Elaraby told the London- based Al-Hayat newspaper the Arab League was holding consultations with donor countries to find a way to help residents of the Gaza Strip in light of the ongoing power struggle between the two Palestinian parties.
He said the Arab League would ask donor countries to channel funds to the Gaza Strip through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), and predicted that consultations soon would result in an agreement on a mechanism for delivering the funds.
“The internal differences and the absence of cooperation between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are behind the delay in reconstructing the Gaza Strip,” he said.
Elaraby also expressed opposition to any move to label Hamas a terrorist group, referring to a recent court ruling in Egypt that outlawed Hamas and labeled its armed wing, Izaddin Kassam, a terror group.
“The right to resistance is one hundred percent guaranteed,” he said, adding that he was in touch with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal during Operation Protective Edge last summer.
Elaraby accused Iran of seeking to drive a wedge between Sunnis and Shi’as and meddling in the internal affairs of the Arab world. He said Iran was behind the recent events in Yemen and was interfering in the internal affairs of Bahrain.
He also charged that Israel was behind the unrest in the Arab world, saying it benefited from the problems facing the Arab countries.
Hamas welcomed the Arab League chief’s statements and expressed hope that they would put an end to the “smear campaign” waged by Egyptian media against the Islamist movement.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri expressed hope the statements also would prompt the Egyptian authorities to change their policy toward Gaza and reopen the Rafah border crossing.
PLO leaders, meanwhile, are scheduled to hold a meeting in Ramallah this week to discuss the continued dispute with Hamas and its impact on efforts to reconstruct the Strip.
They also will discuss the current stalemate in the peace process and repercussions of Israel’s decision to withhold Palestinian tax revenues.
Mohamed Shtayyeh, a senior Fatah official and former negotiator with Israel, said on Sunday the PA was on the “verge of collapse” due to the severe financial crisis it is facing as a result of the Israeli move.
“The financial situation of the Palestinian Authority is very difficult,” Shtayyeh said. “We are facing a number of economic crises because of the Israeli decision to withhold our revenues.”
As a result, he said, the PA was unable to pay salaries to its civil servants or participate in the effort to rebuild Gaza. “Israel will pay a heavy price if the Palestinian Authority collapses,” Shtayyeh cautioned. “This will have new repercussions on security, which also will affect Israeli security.”
He said that, despite the Israeli move, the Palestinians will pursue their efforts to file war crime charges with the International Criminal Court against Israelis.