PA’s Abbas ‘outraged’ as Hamas takes center stage in mediation efforts

Abbas “did not hide his anger” over being sidelined during the mediation efforts with his rivals in Hamas, according to an unnamed official.

 Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas looks on during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not pictured) in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank March 27, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas looks on during a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (not pictured) in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank March 27, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is enraged because Egypt, Qatar and other parties chose to hold direct contacts on ways of preventing further escalation with Israel in the aftermath of the recent tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank, a senior official with the ruling Fatah faction said.

The official, who was not identified by name, told the London-based pan-Arab media outlet Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that Abbas “did not hide his anger” over being sidelined during the mediation efforts with his rivals in Hamas.

“These efforts show that President Abbas is no longer the only party that Arabs turn to when talking about the escalation in al-Aqsa Mosque and the West Bank,” the official added.

On Sunday, Abbas abruptly called off an emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership that was supposed to discuss the rising tensions with Israel. The meeting was scheduled to take place in Ramallah on Sunday evening.

Palestinian officials said that the PA leadership was called to discuss the implementation of a resolution by the Palestinian Central Council (PCC) to terminate all signed agreements with Israel, halt security coordination and suspend PLO recognition of Israel until the Israeli government recognizes a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines, with east Jerusalem as its capital.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrives to attend the meeting of the Palestinian Central Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah January 14, 2018.  (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrives to attend the meeting of the Palestinian Central Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah January 14, 2018. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)

The resolution was announced by the PCC in 2018 and again earlier this year during a meeting in Ramallah.

Since the beginning of the tensions, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who is based in Doha, Qatar, has been holding a series of contacts with Egypt, Qatar, the United Nations and other parties on ways of averting an all-out confrontation with Israel.

Haniyeh was in touch with senior Egyptian intelligence officials, Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and his foreign minister, and the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland.

The Hamas leader also contacted Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Oman’s Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr Albusaidi.

On Saturday, reports surfaced in a number of Arab media outlets concerning a truce agreement that has been reached between the Gaza-based terrorist groups and Israel.

The reports created the impression that Abbas and the PA were no longer seen as relevant and influential players. In addition, the reports implied that the Hamas leadership was the only address for restoring calm.

Following the news about the truce deal, the PA leadership issued a statement in which it said that Abbas and the Palestinian leadership “continue their actions at the international level, including sending messages and making contacts with a number of world leaders and international organizations.”

According to the statement, “These contacts aim to brief world leaders and international organizations on the dangerous situation that the Palestinian territories are going through, including incursions into cities, camps and villages, especially what is happening in Jerusalem.”

The statement was clearly intended to show that Abbas and the PA leadership were not sitting on the fence while several countries and parties were negotiating with Hamas.

A PA official insisted on Monday that the Ramallah-based leadership was “directly involved” in all the contacts with international parties over the past few days.

“The Egyptians and Qataris know that the Palestinian leadership is the only address,” the official told The Jerusalem Post. “Any attempt to sideline President Abbas and the legitimate leadership of the Palestinian people won’t succeed.”

The official pointed out that Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah discussed the latest developments in the Palestinian arena during a phone conversation on Monday.

Abbas also held similar discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the emir of Qatar and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he said.

But a Fatah official told the Hamas-affiliated Shehab news website that Abbas’s insistence on maintaining tight and exclusive control of the decision-making process has created a crisis in the PA.

The official claimed that Abbas was only consulting with his confidant, senior PLO and Fatah official Hussein al-Sheikh, as well as the commanders of the PA security forces.

The unnamed official also said that Abbas was outraged with the Arab and foreign mediators for ignoring him and talking directly to Hamas.

Abbas’s decision to call off the planned meeting of the Palestinian leadership raised eyebrows and drew sharp criticism from many Palestinians. It was unclear, however, if the decision was the result of Abbas’s reported frustration with the mediators for allegedly sidelining him.