Palestinian Authority Takes Steps to Halt Hamas Reconciliation

Palestinian Authority Takes Steps to Halt Hamas Reconciliation

As fallout from the continuing crisis regarding the three kidnapped Israeli teens, which Israel has blamed on Islamic terror group Hamas, the Times of Israel reports that the Palestinian Authority has stopped taking steps in the reconciliation process with Hamas which led to the establishment earlier this month of a Palestinian unity government.

On Monday, a senior Palestinian official said that if it were proven that Hamas was, in fact, behind the kidnappings, the PA would reevaluate the unity agreement. The senior Fatah official said that Hamas “stabbed the unity deal in the back” and that Fatah would “act against Hamas assets” in the event the terror organisation was found responsible for the abduction.

The Palestinian government convened on Tuesday and decided that it would continue to refrain from paying the salaries of former Hamas government officials, some 40,000 in number. The issue of non-payment of salaries to Hamas workers was a focus of tension and physical violence between Hamas and Fatah after the reconciliation agreement was signed, and banks in the Gaza Strip were closed for six days after the Hamas workers’ salaries were not transferred.

Additionally, Fatah has stopped holding deliberations and meetings of the committee that is to examine the integration of Hamas into PLO institutions, and has decided not to convene the Palestinian parliament, which was to occur in another three weeks’ time.

Hamas had asked that the parliament be convened in order to appoint former Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh to the post of Palestinian parliament chairman, which would turn him into Mahmoud Abbas’s successor were Abbas unable to continue in the position of PA president.

Meanwhile, Fatah’s possible role in the kidnapping remains under scrutiny. PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas promised Friday that the PA would help search for the teens Friday, but Fatah activists have both encouraged all Palestinian Arabs to obstruct the Israel Defense Forces investigation and published a political cartoon comparing the teenagers to rats and celebrating the kidnapping in general.