Zahar: Abbas is 'paralyzing' the gov't

Alleges that he met with a European FM during recent tour of Arab countries.

A-zahar close up 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
A-zahar close up 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar on Sunday accused PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas of disrupting the work of the Hamas cabinet, saying some ministries had been "paralyzed" as a result. He also revealed that he met with a European foreign minister during his recent tour of Arab countries, but refused to elaborate. "During the tour, I first met with a European consul from one of the big countries and later with a foreign minister," he told reporters in Gaza City. "We also had contacts with a number of European countries." Zahar expressed confidence that the European Union would soon change its position toward the Hamas cabinet and rescind its decision to suspend financial aid to the Palestinians. "The European decision will be reversed," he said. "I don't think this will take a long time. The Europeans will soon discover that their immoral policy does not serve their interests in the region." Zahar also expressed reservations about the 2002 Saudi peace initiative, saying the Hamas cabinet had studied it thoroughly. He said the cabinet had two reservations about the initiative: recognition of Israel and normalization of ties. He added that the road map plan for peace in the Middle East was also not relevant "because Israel had already made 14 reservations about it." Zahar claimed that nearly 250,000 kilograms of gold were smuggled out of the Gaza Strip to the Gulf following Israel's pullout from the area last summer. "This is an issue that we must look into," he said. "We discussed the issue at length with President Abbas on Saturday." Zahar lashed out at Abbas for issuing a series of "presidential decrees" that undermined the powers of the Hamas cabinet. "Some of the ministries are either paralyzed or have stopped functioning because of these decrees," he said. "The Interior Ministry is totally paralyzed and is unable to provide services to the public because of these decrees and other appointments [made by Abbas]." Zahar was referring specifically to Abbas's decision to prevent the establishment of a new security force, consisting largely of Hamas militiamen, and the appointment of Rashid Abu Shabak, a former security commander, as director-general of internal security. Both decisions have been openly challenged by Hamas. These two issues, along with the severe financial crisis in the PA, were at the core of the meeting that was held on Saturday night in Gaza City between Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The meeting, which lasted for nearly three hours, came amid increased tensions between Hamas and Abbas's Fatah party. According to sources close to both parties, Abbas exerted heavy pressure on Haniyeh to adopt a more "pragmatic" position toward Israel and the peace process to help resolve the financial crisis. Aziz Dweik, speaker of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council, said the financial crisis was "politically-motivated." He accused the previous Fatah cabinet of adding 30,000 names to the list of civil servants shortly before Hamas took over. He revealed that the previous cabinet also promoted thousands of Fatah-affiliated employees after the parliamentary election, increasing the burden on the PA treasury.