Hamas rejects Arab deployment plan

PA envoy says Palestinian factions to meet in Egypt next week to discuss 'national reconciliation.'

Haniyeh says hi 248 88 AP (photo credit: AP [file])
Haniyeh says hi 248 88 AP
(photo credit: AP [file])
Hamas has rejected a proposal to deploy Arab troops in the Gaza Strip, saying such a move would only deepen divisions among the Palestinians. The proposal, which was presented to Hamas by Egypt and Jordan in recent days, has won the full backing of the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah. The initiative has also won the backing of the Saudis, who told visiting PA President Mahmoud Abbas that they would do their utmost to persuade Hamas to accept it, a senior PA official said Tuesday. The proposal calls for deploying an Arab security force in the Gaza Strip to help the Palestinians "reconstruct" their police forces and pave the way for a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation. One of the staunch supporters of the idea is PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, who believes that this would be the only way to end the differences with Hamas. However, Ayman Taha, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza City, said that "Hamas is capable of imposing law and order in the Gaza Strip, and we don't need external forces here. The deployment of Arab troops would only serve to consolidate the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip." Taha said Abbas's support for the idea showed that he was "not serious" about ending the ongoing power struggle with Hamas. The Hamas spokesman also denied reports in the Arab media to the effect that Egypt had invited representatives of Hamas and Fatah to Cairo for talks aimed at ending the power struggle. He also denied that Syrian-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal was planning to visit Cairo in the near future. Hamas legislator Ismail al-Ashkar expressed fear that the latest proposal was aimed at restoring the pre-1967 situation, in which the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian rule while the West Bank was part of Jordan. "This initiative is totally unacceptable," he said. "We need Palestinian national forces that would be able to defend the homeland, and not Arab armies." He, too, denied reports about an imminent dialogue between Hamas and Fatah in Egypt. Meanwhile, the Palestinian envoy to Cairo, Nabil Amr, announced that representatives of various Palestinian factions would meet in Egypt next week to discuss ways of achieving "national reconciliation." He did not say whether Hamas would attend the talks, which will be held under the auspices of the Egyptian government. In a separate development, Hamas has banned Fatah officials from leaving the Gaza Strip until Fayad's government provides passports to Palestinians living there. Fayad's government has refused to send new PA passports to the Gaza Strip, arguing that it does not recognize Hamas's rule in that area. The decision has prevented thousands of Palestinians from obtaining new PA passports that entitle them to travel abroad when and if the border crossings are reopened. Among the Fatah officials who are not permitted to leave the Gaza Strip are Zakariya al-Agha and Ibrahim Abu al-Naja, the most senior representatives of the faction there. A Hamas official said Tuesday that hundreds of patients from the Gaza Strip who were in need of urgent medical treatment would not be able to travel to Egypt or other countries due to the PA's refusal to send new passports. "We're talking about almost 1,500 patients who can't travel because they don't have passports," the Hamas official said. "And then there are students and families who need to travel to their universities and work but are unable to issue new passports."