A senior member of the Hamas Political Bureau has said that the movement would never accept any successor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas except Parliamentary Speaker Aziz Duwaik. This decision, Dr Khalil Al-Hayya told journalists on Wednesday, is based on the provisions of the Palestinian Basic Law.
Al-Hayya's remarks came in the wake of media reports about Abbas nominating successors for the positions with Fatah, the Palestinian National Council and the PLO that he has been holding for years. "We will not recognise the proposed distribution of positions made by Abbas," he insisted.
The senior Hamas official spoke about the efforts to end the internal Palestinian division, noting that "no obstacles" remained except the lack of political will by PA President Abbas. "We have met with Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and all other ministers who visited Gaza, and they said that there were no problems, but when we asked them to solve the crises in Gaza, they said that they would discuss the issue with Abbas."
Fatah, he noted, is not ready to pay the salaries of the PA employees in Gaza who were recruited after the Hamas election victory in 2006. This was confirmed by Minister Ma'moun Abu-Shahla and Deputy Prime Minister Ziyad Abu-Amr, as well as other parties.
Al-Hayya described the meetings which took place with Egyptian officials in February as "fruitful" and said that Cairo "is persuaded that it is Fatah or Abbas who does not want to continue the reconciliation."
Regarding the Rafah Crossing, he said that the Egyptians promised to work on opening it permanently, but this depends on the security situation in Sinai. "However, they promised that they would work to overcome the security obstacles." In order to solve this problem he said, Hamas suggested alternatives for the Rafah Crossing. "This includes a sea passage between Gaza and the closest Egyptian port."
The Islamic Resistance Movement, said Al-Hayya, had agreed with the Egyptians to establish an independent fund supervised by Cairo to receive taxes paid in the enclave and pay the salaries of PA officials. "This was rejected by Fatah," he confirmed.
In order to find a solution to the damaging political division, Hamas has apparently suggested the formation of a tripartite committee consisting of Fatah, Hamas and Egypt to agree on everything and supervise the implementation of the reconciliation. "Again," claimed Al-Hayya, "Fatah has refused."
Even though Hamas is involved in the political arena, explained Al-Hayya, he insisted that resistance to the Israeli occupation will continue, and that the liberation of Palestinian lands remain the movement's strategic goal. "We will not, however, use resistance to put pressure on Fatah to end the division."
Representatives of the movement have met with the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, and warned him that Gaza is on the verge of an explosion. According to Al-Hayya, if this happens, it will be in the face of the Israeli occupation.
"We told Mladenov that the international community must put pressure on the Palestinian Authority to bear its responsibility for Gaza and the Gaza residents, as well as to push the Israeli occupation to end the siege," explained the Hamas official. "We also accepted the road map that he proposed to end the division on condition that Mahmoud Abbas abides by its terms."
Palestinian National Council
"Hamas has been and will continue committing itself to the outcomes of the Beirut Agreement reached with all the Palestinian factions in January 2017," Al-Hayya said, noting that the agreement included the formation of a new national council and a new national government. "As such, we will not take part in the upcoming meetings of the Palestinian National Council because it will not represent us or other Palestinian factions."
He also claimed that the meetings would never take decisions in favour of the Palestinian cause, but will perpetuate what he called Fatah's authoritarianism. "Hamas is part of the national powers," he stressed, "and it is committed to anything that comes out of a Palestinian consensus, but this does not mean that it will be committed to the decisions of the Palestinian National Council because it does not enjoy national consensus."