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PA: Hamas must transfer control of Gaza Strip

Leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar (5th L) gathers with Palestinians groups to evaluate the reconciliation deal, signed between Hamas and Fatah, in Gaza City, Gaza on 28 September 2017 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]
Leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar (5th L) gathers with Palestinians groups to evaluate the reconciliation deal, signed between Hamas and Fatah, in Gaza City, Gaza on 28 September 2017 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has called on Hamas to transfer control of the Gaza Strip to Ramallah saying it was prepared to assume its full responsibilities there, as tensions between the two factions continue to rise, according to the Wafa news agency.

“[The government] called on Hamas to hand over the Gaza Strip all at once and affirmed its readiness to take full responsibility [for it],” the official PA news site reported.

The statement came a day after PA President Mahmoud Abbas suggested he would cut all budgets allocated to Gaza, estimated to amount to some $100 million, if the PA was not awarded full control of the coastal enclave

“If everything is in our hands, we will take full responsibility [for Gaza]. If everything is not in our hands, they will have to take full responsibility for everything [in Gaza],” Abbas said in a 20-minute speech at the PA presidential headquarters in Ramallah.

A senior Fatah official also told the Times of Israel yesterday that it was possible the PA would designate the area a “rebel district”, if the current diplomatic rift was not restored in the near future, under which the PA would not be responsible for any services there. Such a split between Gaza and the West Bank would likely worsen the humanitarian crisis the Strip currently faces.

Read: Hamas: Israel is the main cause of Gaza’s suffering

Abbas’ speech on Monday was criticised by almost all of the Palestinian factions, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), who deemed it a move to undermine the spirit of Palestinian unity.

In an attempt to solve the various Palestinian issues, Hamas stated that general elections must be called, including presidential, parliamentary and National Council polls, to let the Palestinians choose a leadership which is able to achieve unity and bear the responsibility of protecting the people’s interests.

The latest statements mark a decline in relations between the two Palestinian parties, following the attempted assassination of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Gaza last week. The PA blamed Hamas for the car bomb; Hamas responded by stating that blaming them for the attack before a full investigation has been carried out is an attempt to pervert the course of justice.

Read: Hamas has no interest in targeting Hamdallah

Fatah and Hamas signed an agreement in Cairo in October in an attempt to advance reconciliation efforts and restore the PA’s governing authority in Gaza, but failed to make progress in the aftermath of US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Hamas addressed the deal in their statement, accusing the PA of undermining the agreement in his latest speech.

“These remarks and decisions are seen as a coup against all the reconciliation deals and a demolition of the Egyptian role [as mediator],” the Gaza authority said.

The movement called for urgent intervention by all Palestinians and factions, as well as international players, to save the national programme and Palestinian unity and to prevent a disaster before it happens.

The EU Foreign policy Chief Federica Mogherini also warned against fragmentation amongst Palestinian groups during a meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, that handles donor funds to the Palestinians, in Brussels yesterday. She reiterated that the PA must control the Gaza Strip and the area must be part of a future Palestinian state.

“This is why we expect all Palestinian factions to defy the spoilers and continue on the path of reconciliation, with courage and determination,” Mogherini concluded.

Read: Plurality of Palestinians blame PA, Abbas for stalled reconciliation efforts

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