TEL AVIV – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will no longer be responsible for what happens in Gaza if Hamas continues to refuse to hand over full control of the coastal enclave and its weapons to the PA government, he said on Sunday.
Abbas made his comments to Fatah leaders in Ramallah, saying it was also the message he conveyed to the Egyptians. With the support of the U.S., Egypt spearheaded a reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah earlier this year, but the efforts have suffered an impasse with the Gaza-ruling terror group’s refusal to disarm.
“A few days ago, brothers from Egypt visited us and talked to us about the reconciliation [with Hamas],” Abbas said, in reference to a high level meeting headed by Egyptian General Intelligence Chief Abbas Kamel. “We, of course, thanked Egypt for all its efforts, which began in 2007 and are continuing until this day.”
Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in a violent coup in 2007.
“We talked to them at length,” Abbas said. “We told them: We must be given everything [in the Gaza Strip]. Our government must be given everything, all institutions and ministries, including security and weapons.”
Abbas said that if Hamas continued to refuse to relinquish its weapons and security control, “we will not be responsible for what happens there. We are now waiting for a reply from Egypt, and when it arrives we will talk and take action.”
At the meeting in Ramallah, Abbas did not expound on what that action would be. He recently said he would take “legal, financial, and national” measures against Hamas, after his prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, survived an assassination attempt in Gaza.
Abbas expressed his hope that Arab leaders would rally together in support of the Palestinians against the US and its recent decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem.
“In a few days, we will be going to the Arab summit, and we hope that this summit will be called the Jerusalem Summit,” Abbas said of the summit set to take place in Saudi Arabia next week. “It is being held at a time when Jerusalem is facing a fierce onslaught after the decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”
“We heard that they [the Americans] said that Jerusalem and refugees have been removed from the negotiating table. So the question is, what’s left on the table? We believe that the deal is finished and read,” he added.
On Friday, Abbas’ senior adviser Mahmoud al-Habbash accused Hamas of sending Gazans to their death for the sole purpose of garnering headlines featuring “emotional stories of heroism.”
The PA’s senior cleric added that the Palestinian population in Gaza was no longer being fooled by Hamas, and was supporting the Palestine Liberation Organization, which is also headed by Abbas.
Hamas was “selling illusions,” he continued, “trading in suffering and blood, trading in victims” so that it could make strong declarations on TV.