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Egypt warns Abbas: No sanctions on Gaza

The Egyptian officials are also trying to reach a truce agreement between the Gaza-based Palestinian factions and Israel.
By Khaled Abu Toameh
Egypt has warned PA President Mahmoud Abbas not to impose new sanctions on the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian official in Ramallah said on Wednesday.

The Egyptians are also trying to convince Hamas to avoid taking measures that could aggravate tensions with Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction, the official told The Jerusalem Post.Hamas leaders have told the Egyptians that they will reinstall the “administrative committee” that had functioned as a de facto Hamas government in the Gaza Strip until a year ago, if Abbas imposes new sanctions on the coastal enclave.

Hamas suspended the work of the committee after it signed another “reconciliation” agreement with Fatah in Cairo in October 2017. Abbas had demanded that Hamas dissolve the committee as a precondition for signing the agreement.Egyptian intelligence officials have been holding marathon talks with Hamas and Fatah leaders in the Gaza Strip and Ramallah in an attempt to convince the two parties to end their dispute. The Egyptian officials are also trying to reach a truce agreement between the Gaza-based Palestinian factions and Israel.

“The Egyptians have warned President Abbas that any sanctions on the Gaza Strip will increase tensions and result in more violence and bloodshed,” the Palestinian official told the Post.

On Wednesday, the Egyptian intelligence officials returned to the Gaza Strip for the second time in less than 24 hours for additional talks with leaders of Hamas and several Palestinian factions. The Egyptian delegation, which is headed by Ahmed Abdel Khaleq, director of the “Palestinian portfolio” in Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate, has also had talks with senior Fatah officials in Ramallah in the past few days.It was not clear on Wednesday whether the Egyptian officials had made any progress with regards to ending the Hamas-Fatah dispute and achieving a truce with Israel.

On Tuesday, Abbas repeated his demand that Hamas allow the Palestinian Authority to assume full responsibility over the Gaza Strip.

Abbas told the PA’s Palestine TV that he has informed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi that if Hamas does not hand control over the Gaza Strip to the PA government, it should assume full responsibility there. Abbas accused Hamas of failing to implement previous “reconciliation” agreements signed with Fatah.

The PLO Central Council, which is scheduled to convene in Ramallah next week, will discuss the ongoing crisis between Hamas and Fatah, the PA president said. He also denied that the PA had imposed sanctions on the Gaza Strip.

“Until now, we haven’t imposed sanctions on the Gaza Strip,” he said. “We give $96 million to the Gaza Strip every month. Therefore, the talk about sanctions is nonsense and harmful to the Palestinian Authority.”

However, Abbas hinted that he may impose sanctions on the Gaza Strip if Hamas persists in its refusal to allow his government to assume full control there.

“We can’t continue feeding the coup,” he said, referring to Hamas’s violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007. Abbas said he believes Hamas is not interested in achieving unity with Fatah, and is seeking to establish a separate Palestinian “entity” in the Gaza Strip.

Abbas predicted that the PLO Central Council will take “dangerous decisions,” especially toward Israel and the US. He accused Israel and the US of violating agreements signed with the Palestinians.

“The Americans and Israelis have violated the agreements, and we will also walk away from them,” he added.

He said that all the agreements signed with Israel, including the Oslo Accords and the 1994 Protocol on Economic Relations, which is also known as the Paris Protocol, will be brought for discussion before the council.

Husam Badran, a senior Hamas official, on Wednesday accused Abbas of working to obstruct Egypt’s efforts to end the Hamas-Fatah dispute. He said that Abbas’s refusal to share powers with others was the main reason behind the failure of attempts to solve the crisis.

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