Palestinian Reconciliation: Abbas Says No to 'Hezbollah Model' in Gaza as Hamas Hopes to Retain Armed Wing

Hamas' military wing is the main obstacle in resuming PA control of Gaza, officials say, with first joint government meeting slated for Tuesday

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Palestinian Hamas militants attend the funeral of their comrade, in Rafah in the southern of Gaza Strip August 17, 2017.
Palestinian Hamas militants attend the funeral of their comrade, in Rafah in the southern of Gaza Strip August 17, 2017. Credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/REUTERS
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and senior Palestinian Authority officials issued further declarations over the weekend about their commitment to reconcile and said both sides are committed to moving the process ahead. But even if the parties reach agreement over administrative issues, they are still yet to deal with the main obstacles – Hamas’ military wing and donations the organization receives from abroad.

The London-based, pan-Arab daily newspaper Al-Hayat reported over the weekend that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has stipulated three conditions for reconciliation. First, that Hamas dismantle its military wing; second, that there be no foreign involvement in the administration of the Gaza Strip; and third, that any money for restoration and development only be channeled through the Palestinian government.

According to Palestinian officials, these conditions are intended to block any involvement by former Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan or countries like Qatar.

A senior PA official confirmed to Haaretz that Abbas has refused to establish the “Hezbollah model” in Gaza. “The Lebanese model cannot be applied in the PA territories. If there is no unified rule and administration by institutions subservient to the rule of law, as in every normal country, there can be no talk of true national reconciliation,” the official said.

Following these remarks, the deputy head of Hamas’ political wing, Dr. Moussa Abu Marzouk, demanded clarifications from Abbas.

According to Abu Marzouk, Hamas’ military wing is not a subject of discussion with the PA. Its weapons, Abu Marzouk added, “are weapons intended for the defense of the Palestinian people, and as long as the Palestinian people are under occupation, the weapons will continue to be ready for any scenario.”

Meanwhile, the leader of Hamas’ political wing in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, said the group’s military wing, Iz al-Din al-Qassam, is now capable of firing the same number of rockets at Tel Aviv in 51 minutes as it fired in the 51 days of the last war in 2014.

According to Sinwar, there is an entire tunnel city under Gaza that can protect fighters for a long time.

Nevertheless, Sinwar continues to speak in favor of reconciliation and says his organization has agreed to many compromises in order to promote that goal. He said he would break the neck of anyone within Hamas who tries to hurt their efforts.

Preparations are continuing in Gaza for a Palestinian government meeting on Tuesday. A delegation of journalists from Ramallah arrived in Gaza on Friday, and government ministers and dozens of other officials will arrive on Monday. They will also be joined by senior Palestinian intelligence and security officials, headed by intelligence chief Majid Faraj and the head of the Palestinian security service, Ziad Hab al-Rih.

Delegations from Egyptian intelligence and the United Nations are also expected to arrive in Gaza ahead of Tuesday’s meeting. After the visit, to be billed as a festive event, delegations will head to Cairo to continue reconciliation discussions.

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