Abbas Says Any Attempt to Separate Gaza From West Bank Doomed to Fail

Palestinian president's remarks come on backdrop on negotiations on a Gaza deal and possibly Palestinian reconciliation

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Sunday, October 28, 2018.
Majdi Mohammed/AP

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas indirectly criticized Hamas on Saturday, on the backdrop of talks between Israel and Hamas, through Egyptian mediation, aiming to lower the violence on the Gaza border and ease conditions in the Strip.

The talks also include an attempt to bring a Palestinian reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, a faction led by Abbas.

"The attempt to separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank will not succeed," Abbas said in a speech honoring the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who died on November 11, 2004. "The Palestinian issue is in a dangerous position," he added. "Not a single Palestinian who is loyal to his principles will agree to a deal that does not secure the independence and the sovereignty of the Palestinian people on their land in the 1967 territories with East Jerusalem as its capital."

Wafa, the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency, which is closely associated with the office of Abbas, took an unusual step on Friday of publishing a column accusing Hamas of what it called the sale of Palestinian blood for $15 million.

Fifteen million dollars has been paid to Hamas at the expense of Palestinian blood, and the leadership of the organization is taking advantage of this money to continue with the Zionist-American plan to separate the Strip from the West Bank,” the column read. The article said that the Qatari funds was delivered to Gaza with Israel's consent through the Erez Crossing, claiming that he salaries Hamas will pay Gazan officials will be based on a list pre-approved by Israel.

Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar denied on Friday that the organization has not formed any deal with Israel or reached any agreements.

"There is no agreement or understanding with the occupation. Anyone who says so is not telling the truth," Sinwar said.  Sinwar said that Hamas is establishing "understandings" with Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations "in order to lift the blockade [on Gaza]." 

The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported on Saturday that, as part of talks on a Gaza deal, Qatar and Israel have agreed to establish a sea passage between Cyprus and the Gaza Strip.

The route would be monitored by international forces and under Israeli security supervision. According to the report, Israel requests physical presence there, while Hamas also agrees to similar surveillance used at the Rafah crossing since 2005, including cameras, computer networking and the presence of international inspectors.