Hamas Says Willing to Integrate Military Wing as Part of PLO

A report says Hamas conditioned the decision on its ability to join the official Palestinian government framework

Members of Hamas' military brigade ride in a Gaza City parade on December 13, 2017.
Adel Hana/AP

Hamas expressed willingness to place its military wing under the authority of the Palestine Liberation Organization if it joins the organization and becomes part of the official Palestinian government framework, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported Friday morning, citing sources in Gaza.

Over the last few weeks, Hamas has passed along messages on the matter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, on the backdrop of the stalled implementation of the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and the PA.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad were invited to participate next week in the Ramallah Palestinian Central Council meeting, a PLO institution that makes decisions when the PLO National Council is not in session. During the conference, the various factions in the PLO will elect their representatives to the organization's Executive Committee.

A Palestinian official affiliated with Hamas in Gaza told Haaretz that the organization’s senior leaders in the Gaza Strip are insistent that they will not return to the previous split between Hamas and Fatah, and are willing to take additional steps to implement the reconciliation agreement. But Hamas also insists on being part of any official Palestinian framework. Hamas has raised this demand in the past, but Abbas was in no hurry to accept it out of fears Hamas would try to take control of the PLO.

Almost three months have passed since the announcement of the Palestinian reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, but in the Gaza Strip residents still do not feel any real change as a result of the agreement.

The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt remains closed, even though its opening would improve living conditions in Gaza; the economic and humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate.

The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza issued a warning last week that the health system was on the verge of collapse, and in response the PA’s Health Minister Dr. Jawad Awaad promised that a large shipment of medicine would arrive in the Gaza Strip next week.     

Hamas sees that the reconciliation is not making any progress, and the Egyptian delegation, which was supposed to oversee its implementation, left Gaza a few weeks ago and has not yet returned, said a Hamas-affiliated official.  

The official also said the organization is not interested in a military escalation with Israel. “Hamas is interested in the continuation of the protests along the border fence [with Israel] and in the West Bank, but in no way [is interested] in rocket fire in a manner that could lead to a conflict with Israel,” he said.

The official added that Hamas has made "a strategic decision: It doesn't want to rule Gaza's civilian sector, but does want to strengthen its position in the Palestinian defense arena."