Hamas says Abbas refusing to hold Palestinian elections due to fear of defeat

Leader from Gaza's ruling Hamas party says PA president is facing a "political crisis"; Mahmoud Zahar boasts that vehicular terror attacks are a "Palestinian invention."

November 15, 2014 17:58
3 minute read.
abbas hayniyeh

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (R) talks with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is refusing to hold elections because he’s afraid that Hamas will win, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar was quoted on Saturday as saying.

Addressing Hamas supporters during a rally in the Gaza Strip’s Shati refugee camp, Zahar accused the PA of working to prevent an intifada against Israel.

“Abbas is facing a real crisis,” Zahar said. “He is facing a political crisis after failing with his statehood bid at the United Nations and his inability to halt settlement construction in the West Bank and Jerusalem.”

Zahar said that Hamas was prepared to contest elections, but “Abbas is afraid of holding them because he fears the results.”

He accused Abbas of seeking to disarm Hamas and other armed groups in the Gaza Strip.

“Any weapons that are directed toward the fighters are corrupt weapons,” Zahar said.

He praised the recent terrorist attacks against Israel in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the West Bank, adding that the use of vehicles to run over Israelis was a “Palestinian invention.”

Zahar’s remarks are a sign of the growing tensions between Hamas and Fatah despite the talk of “national unity” and “reconciliation” between the two parties.

The tensions reached their peak last week when Fatah accused Hamas of being behind a series of explosions that targeted 15 Fatah leaders in the Gaza Strip. Following the explosions, Fatah canceled a rally it was planning to hold in Gaza City to mark the 10th anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat.

Hamas, for its part, has accused the PA of hindering efforts to reconstruct the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge. A Hamas leader said last Thursday that the PA leadership was seeking to lay its hands on half of the funds earmarked for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.

Khalil al-Haya, a senior Hamas official, said that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip still haven’t seen any of the money promised by a donor conference in Cairo last month. He and other Hamas leaders warned of an “explosion” if the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip does not take place.

Meanwhile, Abbas decided to cancel the rally marking the 10th anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat in the Gaza Strip after learning that supporters of ousted Fatah leader Mohamed Dahlan were planning to “take over” the event, sources close to Fatah revealed over the weekend.

Dahlan, who lives in the United Arab Emirates, is an archenemy of Abbas, who expelled him from Fatah a few years ago after accusing him of corruption and murder.

The sources told the online newspaper Alaraby Aljadeed that Abbas decided to cancel the planned rally before the bombings that hit the homes of senior Fatah officials in the Gaza Strip a few days before the event.

Fatah has accused Hamas of being behind the explosions, which targeted the homes and vehicles of 15 top Fatah officials in the Gaza Strip. Hamas, for its part, has denied any responsibility for the bombings, saying they were the result of internal disputes in Fatah.

Sources close to Hamas have even hinted that Dahlan’s supporters in the Gaza Strip may have been behind the explosions as part of his power struggle with Abbas.

The rally, which was slated for November 11, was eventually canceled after Hamas said it would not be able to guarantee the safety of participants.

The newspaper said that Abbas received a report from his associates in the Gaza Strip who expressed concern that Dahlan loyalists were planning to “take over” the rally.

The associates expressed fear that Dahlan’s supporters were planning to turn the rally into a show of force against Abbas.

The newspaper said that Dahlan’s supporters had printed 1 million posters featuring him together with Arafat. The posters were supposed to be distributed to Fatah activists attending the rally.

It said that Dahlan’s loyalists had hired many buses to transport their men to the rally. In addition, many Fatah activists received money from Dahlan’s supporters to come to the rally, the newspaper added.

According to the newspaper, Abbas’s associates in the Gaza Strip recommended that he cancel the rally to avoid friction and tensions with Dahlan’s supporters.

Despite his expulsion from Fatah, Dahlan continues to enjoy widespread support among Fatah cadres in the Gaza Strip.

Dahlan previously served as commander of the PA’s Preventive Security Force in the Gaza Strip.

The Abbas-Dahlan feud has led to the expulsion of several top Fatah leaders from the faction. Most of the expelled leaders are from the Gaza Strip and are known to be close to Dahlan.

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