Palestinian Authority, Hamas at loggerheads over security control of Gaza
SAID KHATIB (AFP)
The Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Hamas terrorist organization that has controlled Gaza since 2007 are at loggerheads again over who will be responsible for security control in the Strip when a unity government takes power on December 1.
Palestinian police chief Hazem Atallah said on Thursday that Hamas must disarm if the unity deal is to succeed.
"We are talking about one authority, one law, one gun," Atallah told journalists in Ramallah in the West Bank, echoing a line from Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.
Asked whether he could allow Hamas's armed wing to maintain their weapons while being in charge of police in Gaza, he said: "No way".
The Palestinians' top policeman's remarks came only a day after the PA cabinet reportedly said its forces will assume full security control over Gaza, stressing that it cannot guarantee security at the Strip’s crossings without having full control of the security throughout the strip.
However Hamas’ Interior Ministry spokesman, Iyad al-Bazam challenged Prime Minister Hamdallah’s request, pointing to the terrorist organization’s abandonment of its positions at the border crossings.
Last week, Hamas had already agreed to allow the PA to exercise security control over the border crossings, which include the Rafah border crossing to Egypt as well as the Erez and Kerem Shalom commercial crossings into Israel.
Management of the Rafah crossing is also reportedly a more specific contentious issue between Hamas and the PA. The PA would like to revert to an arrangement in place before Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip when observers from the European Union oversaw entry into Gaza at the Rafah crossing. Hamas opposes doing so, objecting to Israel’s ability in such an arrangement to have “veto” power over foreigners entering Gaza through Rafah.
The PA’s prime minister, Rami Hamdallah said on Tuesday that he expects an agreed-upon framework for security control over Gaza by the time PA and Hamas officials meet with each other again in Cairo on November 21.
In his press conference with foreign journalists, Atallah was even more emphatic.
"It is impossible. How can I do security when there are all these rockets and guns and whatever? Is this possible? It doesn't work," he said.
"Otherwise how can I be in charge? Who is going to be standing and saying 'I am the chief of police, I am in charge,' if I am not controlling everything?"
Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union, has fought three wars with Israel since 2008.
Israel has maintained a crippling blockade on Gaza for a decade, while Egypt has also kept its border largely closed in recent years.
Multiple previous reconciliation attempts have failed.
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