Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas expressed concern regarding the apparent rapprochement between Hamas and Egypt following a visit by Hamas leadership to Cairo on Monday.
Abbas told Yasser Othman, Egypt’s ambassador to the Palestinian territories, on Tuesday that meetings with Hamas officials hampered unity efforts between Fatah and Hamas. A day earlier, Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil met his Hamas counterpart, Ismail Haniyeh, in Cairo.
Hamas and Fatah have been at odds since 2007, when the former movement violently took control of the Gaza Strip following an electoral victory by the Islamist party the year before. Recent efforts at reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas have failed, as the PA continues to arrest Hamas operatives in the West Bank and Hamas blocks preparations for nationwide elections in the Gaza Strip.
London-based daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat reported Wednesday that Abbas succeeded in canceling a second meeting between Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. A spokesman for Morsi said that the president did not intend to meet Hamas or Fatah leaders.
News of Kandil’s meeting with Haniyeh led the news in the PA daily Al-Ayyam Wednesday and reportedly angered Palestinian officials “for its threat to the unity of Palestinian representation through the Palestinian Liberation Organization.” The PLO comprises a number of Palestinian factions — the largest of which is Fatah — but not Hamas.
A similar confrontation occurred during the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Tehran in late August, when Iran invited a delegation from Hamas to participate, an invitation Hamas declined and Iran subsequently denied sending.
“Haniyeh is rebelling against Palestinian legitimacy by claiming that he is visiting Egypt as the legitimate prime minister, accompanied by a number of his ministers,” wrote Salah Rafat, a member of the PLO Executive Committee in a press statement Tuesday. Rafat argued that the high-level meetings in Egypt encouraged Hamas to forgo reconciliation efforts with Fatah and solidify the political split between Gaza and the West Bank.