Abbas Trying to Thwart Reconciliation

Weeks of tension between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Egyptian Government have seen a low-point in relations between the two in recent months. Belatedly on Saturday, a PA delegation departed for Egypt to discuss reconciliation with Hamas and the ongoing negotiations with Israel for de-escalation in Gaza.

Reports indicate that the PA President, Mahmoud Abbas, has become increasingly angry with the Egyptian government, due to fears over its role in what Donald Trump says would be the ‘deal of the century’ and its failure to respect PA interests in Gaza.

Mahmoud Abbas speaking at a conferenceMahmoud Abbas making a speech on 15th August 2018 (photo: WAFA)

Egypt is being encouraged by the United States and Israel to promote the reconciliation of Fatah and Hamas, so as to form a unity government that could see a return of the PA to power in the Gaza Strip. Egypt has also been heavily involved in attempts to reduce the tensions between Israel and Hamas, so as to avert an escalation of the violence into another war.

On Monday Hamas responded to the situation by accusing Abbas of trying to thwart efforts to achieve reconciliation. They also claim that the PA have recently launched an intensive media campaign against the efforts to reach a long-term ceasefire with Israel.

Hamas and Fatah officials meet with the EgyptiansFatah and Hamas officials met in Egypt last year (photo: Reuters)

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) is also involved in the power struggle, accusing Mahmoud Abbas of trying to oust their Tayseer Khalid from his position as chairman of an important committee within the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and handing it to one of Abbas’ close aides.

The DFLP do not want Mahmoud Abbas to hold a monopoly over Palestinian national institutions and national agenda decisions.

Today the Times of Israel have reported Mahmoud Abbas as saying that a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas would only take place over his “dead body” – surely a risky statement to make amid the violence in the Middle East. It seems that he wants the PA to be in control of Gaza before any ceasefire deal is secured, so that he can gain the credit for it.

One of his colleagues is quoted as saying that:

“It is not possible to talk about a ceasefire before we achieve reconciliation.”

Given the extreme difficulties of achieving reconciliation between these different groups, that stance would seem to postpone a ceasefire agreement indefinitely.

One analyst writes that: ‘given the increasing hostility and intransigence in relations between the two main Palestinian factions, it paradoxically appears that the Palestinians are more ready to conclude a truce with the Israelis than reconcile with each other.’

And now, on 30th August, it has emerged that the US Ambassador to Israel has echoed the concerns expressed by Mahmoud Abbas, saying that any agreement to rehabilitate Gaza which sidestepped the Palestinian Authority would be a “tremendous prize” for the terror group.

 

Article originally published on 29th August and updated on 30th August.