Hamas Reportedly Establishing New Gaza Administration, Casting Shadow on Palestinian Unity

Hamas is making long-term plans to run Gaza independently despite agreeing to form unity government with PA; Fatah accuses Hamas of establishing a 'shadow government.'

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Palestinians take part in a rally marking the 29th anniversary of the founding of the Hamas movement, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip December 16, 2016.
Palestinians take part in a rally marking the 29th anniversary of the founding of the Hamas movement, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, December 16, 2016.Credit: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa, Reuters
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Hamas is working to establish an administration that would run the Gaza Strip, thus putting off the planned reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority, according to a report in Lebanon's Al-Akhbar newspaper.

This despite the fact that Hamas and Fatah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' party, agreed to establish a unity government during talks in Moscow two months ago. About a month later, Hamas elected a new leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar.

Al-Akhbar reported on Saturday that Hamas wants to run Gaza independently in the long run due to the belief that true reconciliation and joint governance can't be achieved as long as Abbas leads the Palestinian Authority.

According to Al-Akhbar, a senior Hamas figure in Gaza, Salah Al Bardawil, said this weekend that "the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza is working to establish a new administrative apparatus in the Strip within a month."

The apparatus will consist of ministers and senior defense figures, and will be led by Yusuf Al-Kayali of the Gazan Finance Ministry. Its establishment is part of the reorganization of the Strip's government.

Fatah blasted Hamas over the plan. "The reports mean the establishment of a shadow government that will cut the Strip off from the West Bank," Fatah spokesman Osama Al-Qawasmi said. "Hamas is acting to perpetuate the division instead of promoting reconciliation."

According to Hamas officials, the relative improvement in the ties with Egypt will help the organization with the move. Nevertheless, Cairo has avoided taking steps that would significantly strengthen the organization.

Meanwhile, according to officials in the Palestinian Authority, King Abdullah II of Jordan is making efforts to get Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi and Abbas to meet ahead of the Arab Summit that will take place in Jordan next month, in order to end the tension between the two.

On Friday, Abdullah spoke with Abbas ahead of the latter's conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump, and last month the Jordanian king visited Cairo. According to a senior Palestinian official, the Jordanians see the upcoming summit as a reconciliatory event, and it's likely that it will address the ties between Abbas and Sissi.

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