Ramallah Threatens to Declare Gaza a “Rogue” Entity

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Palestinian men stand behind a wire fence as they wait at the Rafah crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on 15 August 2013. (Photo: AFP - Said Khatib)

By: Malik Samara

Published Monday, August 26, 2013

Fatah has intensified its bellicose rhetoric against Hamas after the ouster of Hamas’ ally in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood. But things are coming to a head with Fatah leaders threatening to declare Gaza a “rogue entity,” if Hamas fails to comply with calls for elections.

Ramallah – After the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood-led administration in Egypt, the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) gradually stepped up its attacks on the Hamas government in Gaza, as the latter lost its main ally and only outlet to the outside world. Fatah is now more insistent on its own interpretation for rapprochement with Hamas, which sees legislative and presidential elections as the only gateway to achieve reconciliation.

Hamas believes the elections should be the outcome of reconciliation, not a prelude. This, according to Hamas, requires fulfilling a set of preliminary conditions.

Now, there are reports that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas intends to call for presidential and legislative elections at any moment, and should Hamas fail to comply, he would then declare the Gaza a “rogue entity.”

Speaking to Al-Akhbar, Hamas leader Yahya Moussa said that if true, Abbas’ move to declare Gaza rogue would be “political suicide.” He said that when the president releases such statements, he is showing that he wants to strike out an entire segment of the Palestinian people.

Moussa added, “This is not odd coming from him. He had relinquished the right of return, and wrote off the Palestinians in the diaspora and the territories of 1948. For this reason, this man represents a danger to the Palestinian cause, to territorial integrity, to the people’s unity. He is tampering with [the people’s] fate while drawing strength from America and Israel.”

Regarding Hamas’ response if elections were to be called, Moussa said, “Hamas has called for a unified position in the national arena against Abbas’ attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause through the negotiation process. We are not concerned with issues like elections at present, but we are concerned with a Palestinian national liberation movement that would be established through a Palestinian national strategy, a unified political program, and a Palestinian leadership that would manage the struggle with the Israeli enemy.”

Regarding the chances for achieving reconciliation in light of the transformations unfolding in Egypt, Moussa said, “Reconciliation is the choice of the Palestinians. The priority is to work for it day and night, but it cannot happen with ongoing security coordination [with Israel], or the resumption of negotiations. Instead, it should be between factions taking part in resistance, which represent the Palestinian people at home and in the diaspora.”

The escalation in Fatah’s discourse turned sharper with the military’s takeover in Egypt. Before the statements mentioned above, the PNA’s Minister of Religious Endowments Mahmoud al-Habbash had proclaimed that elections were the path to reconciliation during his Friday sermon. The same man would later issue a fatwa calling for “rebellion against Hamas in Gaza.”

The PNA’s leadership, which had hitherto refrained from making any statements regarding events in the Arab world ever since the Tunisian uprising of 2011, was more outspoken this time. The Palestinian president explicitly expressed support for the current administration in Egypt and praised what he called “the patriotic pan-Arab position of the Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz.”

At the same time, Azzam al-Ahmad, the person in charge of the reconciliation dossier in Fatah, suggested that the PNA might soon initiate painful measures against Hamas. Ahmad accused Hamas of evading reconciliation, after efforts to form a consensus government, as previously agreed upon, had failed.

In response, Hamas circulated documents purporting to prove that the PNA had taken part in campaigns of incitement against Hamas in the Egyptian media by fabricating accusations that the movement had been meddling in Egyptian affairs.

In the media, stories that portray Hamas in a negative light run almost daily in outlets affiliated with the PNA. One such story, quoting reports from Egyptian and Israeli intelligence, claimed that Muslim Brotherhood leader Mahmoud Izzat was present in Gaza, supervising the Brotherhood’s insurrection in Egypt from the Strip. Hamas has since reacted by shutting down press offices in Gaza, as media outlets close to Hamas continue their counter-attacks against the PNA.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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