Palestinian President Approves Harsh Measures to Force Hamas to Handover Gaza

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has approved a series of harsh measures against Hamas in the Gaza Strip in an attempt to restrain the movement’s authority or force it to handover the sector.

Well-informed sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Palestinian president said that the “game was over” and informed his Egyptian counterpart, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, of his decision, including his intention to withdraw Palestinian Authority members from the Rafah border crossing.

The two leaders had met in Cairo last week.

The PA has ordered its staff to withdraw from the Rafah border with Egypt, effectively closing the main exit for Gaza residents. Hamas took over the crossing and tried to persuade Egypt to pressure the PA to back down on its decision.

But the sources confirmed that the PA was committed to its measures, which also include halting the financing of the sector.

This coincided with the Israeli government’s decision to freeze the transfer of the third installment of the Qatari grant to the Gaza Strip, worth $15 million, after the launch of a rocket from Gaza.

Meanwhile, an official in Ramallah told Asharq Al-Awsat that Egypt “does not deal with Hamas as a legitimate entity.”

He added that Sisi expressed “great support” for Abbas, stressing that Cairo “deals only with the Palestinian leadership as the legitimate representative of the Palestinians.

The PA has repeatedly accused Hamas of refusing to implement reconciliation. Their relationship worsened last week, with the Gaza-based movement preventing Fatah from celebrating its 54th anniversary. Abbas described Hamas leaders as “spies”.

Fatah accused Hamas security services of summoning and arresting of around 500 of its members in the Gaza Strip.

“The Hamas militia has arrested more than 500 of its leaders and sons in Gaza … because of their insistence on commemorating the anniversary,” the movement said in a statement.

(Source / 08.01.2019)

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