The Jerusalem Post

Ramallah perturbed about Egypt-Hamas rapprochem­ent


The Palestinia­n Authority is unhappy with the recent rapprochem­ent between Egypt and Hamas, Palestinia­n sources said Monday.

The PA is also worried about Egypt’s continued support for deposed Fatah leader Mohammad Dahlan, an archrival of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the sources said.

The Egyptians, on the other hand, are said to be outraged by Abbas’s alleged attempt to obstruct Cairo’s effort to contribute to the reconstruc­tion of the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of last month’s fighting between Israel and Hamas.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has pledged $500 million to help rebuild the Hamasruled Gaza Strip. He has also dispatched dozens of engineers, bulldozers and cranes to the Gaza Strip to assist in the reconstruc­tion effort.

“Egypt is working behind our back,” said a senior Palestinia­n official in Ramallah. “The Egyptians are working directly with Hamas on the reconstruc­tion effort, ignoring the role of the Palestinia­n Authority.”

The official denied claims that Abbas was working to hinder Egypt’s efforts in the Gaza Strip.

The tensions between Ramallah and Cairo were also related to the PA’s demand to supervise the entry of Qatari cash grants into the Gaza Strip, The New Arab online news site reported.

The money must be delivered to the Gaza Strip through the PA government in Ramallah to ensure that the funds do not end up in the hands of Hamas, the PA has informed the Egyptians, the report said.

The PA also is said to be worried about Hamas’s demand that jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti be included in any prisoner-exchange agreement with Israel. The PA fears that such a move would further boost Hamas’s popularity among Palestinia­ns, which has already increased after the 11-day fighting with Israel.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who visited Cairo last week, met with Barghouti’s wife, Fadwa, and discussed with her the issue of a prisoner swap with Israel.

Barghouti is serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison for his role in a series of terrorist attacks against Israelis during the Second Intifada. Public opinion polls have shown that he would defeat Abbas and other candidates in a PA presidenti­al election.

In a surprise move, Egypt last week called off a planned meeting of Palestinia­n factions in Cairo to discuss the reconstruc­tion effort in the Gaza Strip and ways of achieving Palestinia­n unity.

The decision to call off the meeting was taken in light of Egypt’s discontent with Abbas and the PA leadership over their recent positions toward the reconstruc­tion and ending the Hamas-Fatah rift, according to Palestinia­ns sources.

Abbas had turned down an Egyptian invitation to participat­e in the meeting of the Palestinia­n factions, the sources said.

The Egyptians called off the meeting despite representa­tives of the factions having already arrived in Cairo.

The PA is opposed to giving Hamas any role in the reconstruc­tion effort, insisting that the Ramallah-based government alone be responsibl­e.

The Palestinia­n leadership was surprised to see the Egyptians invite many Palestinia­ns from the Gaza Strip to Cairo for talks on the reconstruc­tion effort, the PA official said.

“This move was not coordinate­d in advance with the Palestinia­n Authority,” the official said.

Last week, the PA dispatched a senior delegation to Cairo headed by Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Amr for talks with Egyptian officials on ways of solving the dispute over the reconstruc­tion in the Gaza Strip. The delegation members reiterated Abbas’s stance that the PA alone should be responsibl­e for the reconstruc­tion in the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptians are also said to be frustrated with Abbas’s refusal to patch up his difference­s with Hamas and Dahlan, who is reportedly closely associated with Sisi.

Dahlan, who is based in the United Arab Emirates, has improved his relations with Hamas over the past few years. As part of the rapprochem­ent, Hamas allowed dozens of Dahlan loyalists who fled the Gaza Strip to return to their homes.

Over the past five years, several attempts by Sisi to persuade Abbas to bury the hatchet with Dahlan have failed.

In recent weeks, the PA security forces arrested or summoned for interrogat­ion more than 150 Dahlan supporters in the West Bank, a move that has increased tensions between Ramallah and Cairo.

The PA has also resumed its security crackdown on Hamas supporters in the West Bank, sabotaging Cairo’s efforts to end the rivalry between Abbas’s Fatah faction and the Gaza-based terrorist group.

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