PA President Abbas angry over Haniyeh's Cairo visit

Mahmoud Abbas summons Egyptian envoy to protest visit, says Egyptians making big mistake dealing with Hamas prime minister.

Haniyeh waves to supporters after Friday speech in Cairo 390 (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)
Haniyeh waves to supporters after Friday speech in Cairo 390
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)
PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday protested to Egypt over a visit by Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.
On Monday, Haniyeh met in Cairo with Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil. It was his second visit since the election of President Mohamed Morsy.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal arrived in Cairo earlier this week for talks with Egyptian government officials on ways of boosting relations between the two sides, representatives of the Islamist movement said.
On Tuesday, Abbas and his top aide, Tayeb Abdel Rahim, summoned the Egyptian envoy to Ramallah, Yasser Othman, and protested against the invitation of Haniyeh. A Palestinian Authority official quoted Abbas as telling Othman that the Egyptians were making a big mistake by dealing with Haniyeh as if he were the legitimate Palestinian prime minister.
Abbas also warned the Egyptians that dealing with Haniyeh would solidify Palestinian divisions and “play into the hands of the Palestinians’ enemies,” the official said.
Earlier this month, Abbas threatened to boycott the Non-Aligned Movement conference in Tehran after learning that the Iranians had invited Haniyeh to attend the gathering.
Salam Fayyad, prime minister of the PA government in the West Bank, appealed to Haniyeh to reject the invitation so as not to create the impression that the Palestinians had two separate entities.
The Gaza prime minister subsequently announced that he would not travel to Tehran.
The PA’s official news agency, Wafa, quoted Egyptian envoy Othman as assuring Abbas that Cairo remained committed to the “oneness of Palestinian representation” despite the invitation of Haniyeh.
“The Egyptian ambassador affirmed his country’s keenness on easing the blockade on the Gaza Strip and stressed the importance of keeping the Gaza Strip part of the Palestinians’ geographic and political unity and the future Palestinian state,” the agency reported.
PA leaders claimed recently that Hamas was planning to declare an independent Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip.
PLO Executive Committee member Saleh Ra’fat on Tuesday accused the Egyptians of encouraging Hamas to go ahead with its plan to isolate the enclave from the West Bank.
Commenting on Haniyeh’s invitation to Cairo in his capacity as prime minister, Ra’fat said that by holding political, security and economic discussions with Hamas leaders, the Egyptians were “sending the wrong message to Hamas” and encouraging it to avoid fulfilling the Doha reconciliation accord with Fatah.
Ra’fat claimed that the Egyptians were helping “fulfill [former prime minister] Ariel Sharon’s dream of creating a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip while maintaining occupation of the West Bank.” He added that Abbas was the only legitimate and elected leader of the Palestinians, and pointed out that Abbas had fired Haniyeh from his post as prime minister after Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.
The PA representative to Cairo, Barakat al-Farra, said Hamas had not been authorized to sign agreements with other countries, including Egypt. He said agreements were signed between two countries, and not between a country and a political party.
Farra was commenting on reports about a Hamas-Egypt agreement to establish a freetrade zone along their shared border.