Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated threats against the Hamas movement, the de facto ruling party in the besieged Gaza Strip, on Tuesday, threatening further repressive measures should Hamas not unconditionally abide by the PA’s demands to resolve the decade-long intra-Palestinian conflict.
Numerous attempts have been made in the past to reconcile Hamas and Fateh since they came into violent conflict in 2007, shortly after Hamas’ 2006 victory in general elections held in the Gaza Strip. However, Palestinian leadership has repeatedly failed to follow through on promises of reconciliations, as both movements have frequently blamed each other for numerous political failures.
The PA has been the focus of fierce condemnation in recent months after being accused of deliberately sending the impoverished Gaza Strip further into a humanitarian catastrophe — by slashing funding for Israeli fuel, medicine, and salaries for civil servants and former prisoners — in order to wrest control of the territory from Hamas.
The PA has demanded that Hamas accept its terms for any possible reconciliation: ending the Hamas-run administrative committee in Gaza, relinquishing control of the besieged coastal territory to the PA, and holding presidential and legislative elections.
During a meeting with officials from Fateh — the ruling party of the occupied West Bank-based PA, of which Abbas is also the leader — in Ramallah, the Palestinian leader said that the severe funding cuts were “a clear signal to the Hamas movement that it is critical that it backtracks on its procedures … to allow the national consensus government to work in the Gaza Strip and carry out general elections.”
“We clearly tell Hamas that we are ready to take back these measures” if the group abided by the PA’s demands, Abbas said, according to Ma’an News Agency.
But, if the Hamas movement continued to reject the PA’s conditions, Abbas warned, “we will continue our measures, which will escalate.”
Despite humanitarian organizations expressing alarm over the dire situation in the Gaza Strip, Abbas claimed that the measures taken by the PA were not intended to punish Palestinians living in the blockaded coastal enclave, but as a signal to Hamas leadership to back down.
Abbas went on to call Fateh the “initiator” of the Palestinian national unity project, adding that the political party was the best hope for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital as part of a two-state solution — despite critics warning that such a political solution was no longer feasible due to the extreme right’s takeover of Israeli politics.
Earlier this month, the Hamas movement announced its readiness to do away with its administrative committee in Gaza, should the PA retract all punitive measures imposed on the besieged coastal enclave in recent months.
However, Abbas has repeatedly maintained that the PA would continue to reduce financial support to the Gaza Strip as long as the Hamas movement did not stick to the PA-mandated terms of reconciliation.
(Al Ray archive image.)