Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas addressing the United Nations General Assembly - UN Photo - J Carrier
CAIRO – 3 October 2017: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday that the Palestinian National Authority (PA) will assume control of Gaza’s administrative affairs, security responsibilities and all the borders and crossings in the Gaza Strip. He also added that he will not accept Hezbollah’s model in Palestine.
He explained that Palestine will be one state, with one law, one system and that the PA will be the only one to possess weapons. “If someone from Hamas has a weapon, I’ll put him in prison. If someone from Fatah has a weapon, I’ll put him in prison too,” he said.
Abbas discussed the Palestinian reconciliation developments in an interview with Egyptian CBC TV channel, where he said that after 11 years, the PA is fully committed and eager to end the Palestinian split. He also stressed that the PA will not accept any foreign intervention from any country in the Palestinian situation except for Egypt, whose mediation efforts and supervision is accepted and trusted from both Fatah and Hamas, as the Gaza Strip is part of the Egyptian national security.
“We accept Egypt’s mediation only, and no other country but Egypt,” said Abbas.
He noted that finalizing the reconciliation will take time, effort, and true dedication as the “challenges resulting from an 11-year split cannot be magically solved.”
He added that many parties, including Israel, benefited from the long Palestinian split. Israel used the division as an excuse to impede the peace negotiations. “Without unity, we will never be able to establish the Palestinian state,” said Abbas.
Abbas explained that the moment Hamas agreed to reconcile, the PA sent its delegations to seize the opportunity and prove the PA’s willingness to achieve an end to this split. These delegations includes that of the national consensus government that arrived to the Gaza Strip on Monday led by Prime Minister, Ramy al-Hamadallah.
The Palestinian President said that he can see the same will among Hamas’ movement, the same desire to achieve national reconciliation, and he “hopes that their willingness will be reflected on ground, so that we can accelerate unifying efforts.”
Abbas said that Hamas escalated its divisive actions by forming the administrative committee in the Gaza Strip which deepened the separation between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. At this point, the PA took strict measures to prevent Hamas from further isolating the Strip, including imposing a gradual financial allocated budget for the Gaza Strip.
The national, regional and international circumstances forced Hamas to take this step, according to Abbas. The president explained that the PA allocates $1.5 billion budget to the Gaza Strip, which the PA later decided to cut gradually (forcing a 22 percent cut), so that Hamas couldn’t cover the expenses of the Strip and would eventually have to resort to accept the reconciliation. “Once Hamas enables the consensus government to exercise its authority over the Strip, he will restore all budgets,” he said.
On the conditions of finalizing the reconciliation, Abbas said that it was all about enabling the national consensus government to completely proceed with its work on ground in the Gaza Strip. He added that Hamas accepted this condition and dissolved its administrative committee.
The second step is to hold general elections in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to ensure that all Palestinians are represented by the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and the overarching Palestinian body recognized by Israel and the international community, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).
The Palestinian President added that “If Hamas wants to join the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) they should reconcile and adhere to its policies.”
Abbas explained that the developments in talks between Hamas and Fatah in the near future will determine the time of his visit to the Gaza Strip, where he will meet with Hamas’ movement head, Ismail Haniyeh. “When I meet Haniyeh, I will congratulate him on the unity, and I will congratulate all Palestinians,” said Abbas.
“We must forget the past and the disagreements, we know that there are ideological and political differences between the PA and Hamas, and they will remain. But we are all Palestinians and Hamas is part of the Palestinian people,” said Abbas.
On the peace process, Abbas said that he discussed the topic with President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, and explained the Palestinian vision’s solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Abbas commented, “I am optimistic that the time will come in which we get an independent Palestinian state, but not any time soon,” he said. “We don’t deceive each other or sell illusions to anyone. The issue is difficult. We are standing in front of a difficult and narrow-minded right-wing government that rejects peace, the existence of the Palestinian people, and a Palestinian state,” but; “we are building the Palestinian state, brick by brick. I mean when we received Interpol the other day, we placed a brick. When we received UNESCO, we placed another brick.”
Mahmoud Abbas said that he doesn’t prefer to run for the presidential elections, unless this was a popular request.
On the most challenging issues that resulted from 11 years of division, Abbas commented that all problems and issues can be solved once discussed and this will be the next step when Hamas and Fatah meet in Cairo in the near future according to Cairo accords 2011. The 2011 accords include gradual integration of some 3,000 Fatah security personnel into a Gaza police force overseen by the Interior Ministry headed by Hamdallah.
On Monday, Palestinian Prime Minister of the national consensus government formed in 2014, Ramy al-Hamdallah, arrived in the Gaza Strip for the most ambitious attempt to end the decade long rift between rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas.
Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007.
On September 17, Hamas made a vital step towards unity by dissolving its administrative committee in the Gaza Strip formed to operate as a shadow government in the Strip after Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates boycotted its main donor, Qatar, over support of terrorism.