Israeli Defense Chief: Abbas Pushing Us Into Gaza Conflict to Oust Hamas

The Palestinian president, Avigdor Lieberman says, hopes Israel will topple Hamas for him and give the Palestinian Authority control over the Gaza Strip

A Hamas military policeman walks over the rubble of a site hit by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, August 9, 2018.
Khalil Hamra,AP

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is working to push Israel and Hamas to a confrontation in Gaza because the Palestinian Authority and Hamas were unable to solve the crisis between them.

"Hamas is not willing to go to reconciliation with Fatah and transfer control of the Strip to Abu Mazen's people," Lieberman said, referring to Abbas by his nickname. "We are being dragged in because two sides in the Palestinian camp can't get along," he told Radio Darom.

Abbas, Lieberman said, hopes Israel will topple Hamas for him and give the Palestinian Authority control over the Gaza Strip.

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Lieberman's remarks came in the shadow of the delay in the cease-fire agreement between Israel and Gaza's Palestinian factions. 

Meanwhile, a Fatah official close to Abbas told Haaretz that a Fatah delegation will leave for the Egyptian capital of Cairo next week to take part in talks with Gaza's factions, including Hamas.

The Fatah official told Haaretz that the Egyptians pressured Abbas last week to send a delegation to Cairo, but the Palestinian president objected on grounds that a separate agreement was being drawn up between Hamas and Israel that would only deepen the divisions and the separation between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. 

Abbas reiterated his position on reconciliation over the weekend, saying the PA wants to rule in Gaza as it does in the West Bank, such that there will be one government, one law and one set of weapons. The PA was also critical of the emerging Israel-Hamas agreement, increasing tensions between Ramallah and Cairo