Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Ab­bas plans anti-ha­mas steps as split widens

Millennium Post - - World -

RAMALLAH (Pales­tinian Ter­ri­to­ries): The decade-long Pales­tinian split looks set to deepen in the com­ing months, with pres­i­dent Mah­mud Ab­bas poised to take mul­ti­ple mea­sures against Gaza to squeeze its Is­lamist rulers Ha­mas.

The moves raise con­cerns of more suf­fer­ing for Gaza’s two mil­lion res­i­dents, al­ready un­der an Is­raeli block­ade and fac­ing se­vere elec­tric­ity short­ages, while a cor­nered Ha­mas could re­new vi­o­lence against Is­rael.

An­a­lysts say the mea­sures will also widen the gap be­tween Ha­mas-run Gaza and the oc­cu­pied West Bank, where Ab­bas’s gov­ern­ment has lim­ited self-rule.

Ha­mas and Ab­bas’s sec­u­lar Fatah party have been at log­ger­heads since the Is­lamists seized con­trol of Gaza from Ab­bas’s forces in a near civil war in 2007, a year af­ter sweeping­ing par­lia­men­tary elec­tions.

Ha­mas has since fought three bloody wars with Is­rael and fears of a fourth re­main.

Mul­ti­ple rec­on­cil­i­a­tion at­tempts be­tween the Pales­tinian fac­tions have failed but Egypt thought it had made a break­through in late 2017 when the two sides agreed to even­tu­ally share power.

As part of that agree­ment Ha­mas with­drew from bor­der cross­ings be­tween Gaza and Egypt and Is­rael, al­low­ing the Fatah-dom­i­nated Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity to re­turn and the Egyp­tian bor­der to be re­opened reg­u­larly.

The rec­on­cil­i­a­tion agree­ment has since col­lapsed ac­ri­mo­niously.

On Sun­day, the PA an­nounced it would with­draw from the Egyp­tian bor­der cross­ing, cre­at­ing a dilemma for Cairo about whether to leave it open with Ha­mas in con­trol.

So far they have in­di­cated they will.

Se­nior of­fi­cials close to Ab­bas say he is look­ing for other mea­sures to pun­ish Ha­mas.

Among these could be re­mov­ing staff from the cross­ings be­tween Is­rael and Gaza -- mak­ing it hard for the Jewish state to al­low any­thing into the ter­ri­tory with­out deal­ing directly with Ha­mas, which it and many other coun­tries la­bel a ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion.

They could also in­clude cut­ting salaries to fam­i­lies of Ha­mas pris­on­ers or re­scind­ing Pales­tinian pass­ports for Ha­mas em­ploy­ees.

Ab­bas has also pledged to dis­solve the Ha­mas-dom­i­nated Pales­tinian par­lia­ment, which though it hasn’t met since the 2007 split is still nom­i­nally the ba­sis for new laws.

“Very im­por­tant de­ci­sions against Ha­mas are be­ing dis­cussed,” a se­nior of­fi­cial said on con­di­tion of anonymity.

It fol­lows a se­ries of ar­rests of those af­fil­i­ated with Fatah in Gaza, ac­cord­ing to Ab­bas al­lies.

The of­fi­cial said the PA spent around USD 100 mil­lion per month in Gaza, in­clud­ing for elec­tric­ity sub­si­dies, and was look­ing to cut back sig­nif­i­cantly.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.