Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Hamas And Fatah Spar Over Truce, Unity Talks, Abbas: 'Over My Dead Body'

Hamas and Fatah spar over truce, unity talks

The war of words between Hamas and its rivals in Fatah has intensified as Egyptian efforts to end the dispute between the two parties and achieve a truce between the Gaza-based factions and Israel appear to have hit a snag.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was quoted on Tuesday as having voiced strong opposition to the idea of establishing a seaport in Cyprus and an airport near Eilat as part of a truce agreement between Hamas and Israel. Abbas reportedly said that such a plan was “destructive to the Palestinian cause and would kill the Palestinian dream of establishing a Palestinian state.”

Hussein al-Sheikh, a senior Fatah official, told Palestine TV that Abbas has made it clear that such a plan would pass only “over [his] dead body.”

Palestinian reconciliation was the key to resolving all the problems of the Gaza Strip, Sheikh said.

Hamas, he charged, was negotiating a truce agreement that would be comfortable only for itself and Israel.

Hamas is “seeking to consolidate the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip and tighten its grip over the Gaza Strip,” Sheikh said. The truce, he added, is a life-save for Hamas, which would no longer feel a need to achieve reconciliation with Fatah.

The top Fatah official claimed that Hamas has accepted a proposal for a seaport in Cyprus and an airport near Eilat in return for Israeli and American economic and humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

Hamas officials have denied reports to the effect that Israel had offered their movement a seaport in Cyprus and an airport near Eilat.

Sheikh, who was part of a Fatah delegation that held talks in Cairo with Egyptian intelligence officials in the past 48 hours, said that the PA and Fatah leaderships were in favor of a comprehensive truce with Israel, “but the reconciliation is now more important because it will lead us towards a period of calm. We will not be part of a truce, and we will resist it and fight against it because it means the destruction of the Palestinian dream of establishing a state.”

The PLO, he said, was the only part authorized to take a decision on a truce with Israel.

“No one authorized Hamas to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people,” Sheikh added.

“We say to Hamas: either reconciliation or we will search for other means. We are facing a real chance to achieve reconciliation and Hamas must seize the opportunity.”

For their part, Hamas leaders and spokesmen accused Abbas of hindering the Egyptian efforts by refusing to lift the economic sanctions he imposed on the Gaza Strip last year.

'Over my dead body,' Abbas reportedly says amid Gaza ceasefire talk

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has reportedly lambasted a potential ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, saying such a deal would only be reached “over my dead body” and drawing a scathing response from Hamas.
“If the agreement is signed without the PA’s permission, it is illegal and constitutes treason,” Abbas said in private conversations, according to Hissein al-Sheikh, a senior member of Abbas’s Fatah party.
“Over my dead body will there be a ceasefire and calm between both sides,” Abbas said, according to al-Sheikh.

Regarding intra-Palestinian reconciliation talks, which have stalled recently, the Fatah member said disagreements between the factions were mounting and that such a deal “never looked more distant.”
Abbas was also said to be furious at Egypt, which has been brokering Israel-Hamas truce talks, for being willing to sit down with members of the terror group that rules the Gaza Strip without his presence.
“The Egyptians aren’t reading the map correctly and are harming the Palestinian national interests,” al-Sheikh said. “Talks with Hamas, which took control of Gaza by force and without the consent of the Palestinian Authority, are unacceptable and are an act of defiance against Palestinian leadership.”
Abbas’s Fatah party and Hamas have been deeply divided for more than a decade. Hamas, an Islamist terror group which openly seeks to destroy Israel, seized control of Gaza from the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in 2007 and several attempts at reconciliation since then have failed.

The PA government has been putting pressure on Hamas to reach a reconciliation deal that would return Fatah rule to Gaza, and earlier this year began to scale back electricity payments and other financial support in an effort to force Hamas to cede ground in Gaza.
Abbas is demanding that Hamas hand over complete control of Gaza to the PA, and that the switch be conducted in a single stroke rather than in stages.

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