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Palestinian Authority rejects 'Hezbollah model' for Hamas in Gaza Strip: report

Members of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the militant wing of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, patrol in the southern Gaza Strip
SAID KHATIB (AFP/File)
Hamas said the decision to reconcile was to prevent Israel from "swallowing up" the West Bank

While the Palestinian Authority and Gaza-based Hamas have demonstrated continued commitment to Palestinian reconciliation, Abbas' demand that Hamas dismantle its military wing remains a strong point of contention.

Over the weekend, the London-based Al-Hayat pan-Arab daily reported that Abbas has set forth three conditions to Hamas on reconciliation including that it dissolve its Iz al-Din al-Qassam brigades.

The other two demands include that no foreign entity have any involvement in the administration Gaza affairs and that all economic aid bound for the Strip pass first through the consensus government and not through Hamas-run channels, the report said.

A senior Palestinian official confirmed to Israel's Haaretz daily that Abbas has refused to agree to a "Hezbollah model" for Hamas in Gaza.

"The Lebanese model cannot be applied in the PA territories. If there is no unified rule and administration by institutions subservient to the rule of law, as in every normal country, there can be no talk of true national reconciliation,” the official told the paper.

MAHMUD HAMS (AFP)

But the deputy head of Hamas’ political wing, Dr. Moussa Abu Marzouk, said that the group's military wing is not up for discussion.

He told Haaretz that Hamas' weapons are "intended for the defense of the Palestinian people, and as long as the Palestinian people are under occupation, the weapons will continue to be ready for any scenario."

Nonetheless, the two factions continue to speak positively about their respective commitment toward reconciliation as Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah arrived in the Gaza Strip for a milestone visit.

It is the first time officials from the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, have visited the coastal enclave since 2015.

Hamas seized control over the Strip from Fatah in a near civil war in 2007.

MAHMUD HAMS (AFP)

Security officials from the Palestinian Authority, including the presidential guard, have been present in the Strip to continue its coordinating an agreement between the two.

A statement from Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh on Saturday evening revealed that the decision to reconcile was based on Israel's actions to control the territories and to "prevent" the Jewish state from "swallowing up the West Bank" and "continuing its siege of the Gaza Strip."

However, the division among Palestinian factions is considered a main obstacle to the possibility of a "two-state" solution with Israel, which would see the creation of a Palestinian state that includes both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Though many attempts at reconciliation between the two rival factions have previously failed, tensions have been warming in recent months.

AP Photo/Jason DeCrow

A phone call from Haniyeh to Abbas ahead of a United Nations General Assembly was recently described as a move towards a positive atmosphere between the two sides.

According to statements carried by the PA’s official news agency, Wafa, Abbas told Haniyeh that he “is satisfied with the atmosphere of reconciliation” created by Hamas' decision to dissolve what is seen as a rival administration in Gaza, while saying it was ready for elections and negotiations towards forming a unity government.

"We are anxious to create the climate necessary for reconciliation after years of divisions," Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Saturday. "The unity between Gaza and the West Bank is the basis of such a reconciliation."

Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union, took power in Gaza in 2007, winner of the parliamentary elections in 2006, subsequently deprived of its success under international pressure with Fatah.

(Staff with AFP)

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