Fatah, Hamas spar over W. Bank control comments

Fatah official accuses Hamas of trying to establish its own emirate in Gaza, foil establishment of Palestinian state in West Bank; Hamas deputy Abu Marzouk says Abbas should dismantle PA, hand West Bank to Hamas.

Mousa Abu Marzook 370 (photo credit: Asmaa Waguih / Reuters)
Mousa Abu Marzook 370
(photo credit: Asmaa Waguih / Reuters)
The Palestinian Authority on Monday ridiculed Hamas’s request to take control of the West Bank.
Senior Hamas official Musa Abu Marzouk made the proposal in response to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s threat to dismantle the PA and hand the area over to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Abbas was quoted last week as saying after meeting with Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On in Ramallah that if there was no progress in the peace process, “I will take the phone and call Netanyahu and tell him: ‘Sit in the chair instead of me; take the keys and you will be responsible for the Palestinian Authority.’”
Abu Marzouk, in a posting on Facebook on Monday, wondered: “Why does Abbas want to hand the keys over to Netanyahu? Why not hand it over to Hamas?” Abu Marzouk, who will turn 62 on January 9 and is slated to replace Khaled Mashaal as head of Hamas, said it would have been “better and more effective had Abbas threatened to hand the West Bank to Hamas.”
Hamas’s success in remaining “steadfast in the face of the blockade [on the Gaza Strip] and the wars it led [against Israel] qualified it to run the West Bank successfully,” he said.
Fatah officials in the West Bank reacted angrily to Hamas’s suggestion.
Jamal Muheisen, a member of the Fatah Central Council, said the Palestinians should first hold presidential and legislative elections to choose their leaders.
“Whoever wins in the elections will be handed the keys of the entire Palestinian Authority, be it Hamas or Fatah or any other Palestinian faction,” Muheisen said.
He accused Hamas of conducting secret negotiations in an Arab country to reach agreement with Israel over the establishment of a Palestinian state with temporary borders in the Gaza Strip and Sinai.
The Fatah official claimed that the negotiations were being held under the auspices of the US.
“Hamas is seeking to establish its own emirate while leaving the West Bank as cantons that are separated by settlements,” Muheisen charged.
“Hamas’s goal is to foil the establishment of a Palestinian state on all the territories that were occupied in 1967.”
He added that Abbas’s threat to hand authority over to Israel came in response to former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman’s statements against the PA president and the “economic blockade” imposed by Israel on the PA.
Fatah spokesman Ahmed Assaf also condemned Hamas for offering to take over the PA in the West Bank.
“How can Abu Marzouk and Hamas agree to rule the West Bank while settlement construction is continuing there?” Assaf asked. “How can Hamas agree to a state without Jerusalem and the right of return for Palestinian refugees? Does Hamas want to cover up for Israeli occupation and the Judaization of Jerusalem and Islamic holy sites?
 Like Muheisen, Assaf also claimed that Hamas was conducting secret talks with Israel about the establishment of a temporary Palestinian state.
There has been no comment from Israeli officials.