Abbas worried Israel won’t allow him into Ramallah if he visits Gaza

Fatah officials arrive in Gaza to discuss ways of foiling Trump plan

PA PRESIDENT Mahmoud Abbas speaks with Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, earlier this year.  (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
PA PRESIDENT Mahmoud Abbas speaks with Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, earlier this year.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wants to visit the Gaza Strip, but is worried that Israel may not allow him to return to the West Bank, a PA official in Ramallah said on Saturday.
Abbas has indicated his desire to visit the Gaza Strip for talks with Hamas leaders on ways of ending the rivalry with his ruling Fatah faction in the aftermath of the unveiling of US President Donald Trump’s plan for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the official told The Jerusalem Post.
According to the official, Abbas believes that ending the Hamas-Fatah rift and achieving “national unity” would be an appropriate response to the Trump “conspiracy to liquidate the Palestinian cause.”
Abbas, however, is concerned that Israel will not allow him to return to Ramallah after visiting the Gaza Strip, the official said. “President Abbas won’t embark on such a move unless he receives assurances from various international parties that Israel would permit him to return to Ramallah.”
A PLO delegation was scheduled to visit the Gaza Strip to prepare for Abbas’s visit. The delegation’s visit, however, has been delayed until further notice, the official added.
On Friday, Abbas dispatched two senior Fatah officials to the Gaza Strip for talks with Palestinian factions on ways of confronting the Trump plan.
The two, Rouhi Fattouh and Ismail Jaber, members of the Fatah Central Committee, entered the Gaza Strip through the Erez border crossing. The visit is the first of its kind by senior Fatah officials since Trump announced his plan.
Hamas welcomed the visit of the Fatah officials and said it would pave the way for “achieving real national unity.”
The visit comes on the eve of Abbas’s address the UN Security Council as part of a Palestinian diplomatic offensive to rally opposition to the Trump plan.
Palestinian envoy to the UN, Riad Mansour, said that the 15-member Security Council would vote on a draft-resolution on the Trump plan. “We will try our best with our friends to have the strongest possible draft-resolution and to receive the strongest and largest possible voting in favor of that resolution,” Mansour said. “Of course, we would like to see a strong, large opposition to this Trump plan.”
Palestinian sources said the Abbas envoys will hold talks with representatives of several factions in the Gaza Strip on ways of “fortifying the home front” in order to confront the Trump plan.
Fattouh and Jaber are also scheduled to meet with Fatah officials in the Gaza Strip to discuss holding internal elections for faction leaders, similar to those held in the West Bank.
Fatah members in the Gaza Strip, including thousands of former PA security officers, have been protesting against a series of measures taken by the PA government in recent years. The measures include forcing thousands of Fatah members into early retirement or depriving them of their salaries.
Eyad Nasr, a Fatah spokesman in the Gaza Strip, said that the discussions are aimed at rallying all Palestinian factions behind the PA leadership and ending the Fatah-Hamas rift.
The visit of the Fatah officials to the Gaza Strip, he noted, came after Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh phoned Abbas and discussed with him the possibility of working together to foil the Trump plan.
“President Abbas is sincere about ending the split [between the West Bank and Gaza Strip],” Nasr said in an interview with the Palestinian news website Al-Watan Voice. “The president is convinced that Palestinian unity is the best way to confront the damned [Trump] deal.”
The Fatah spokesman denounced some Arab countries for allegedly normalizing their relations with Israel. “We’re not asking the Arabs to fight or confront the Americans and Israelis on our behalf,” Nasr said. “We only want the Arabs to say that they accept what the Palestinians accept and reject what the Palestinians reject.”