Fatah officials have reportedly warned that if Hamas does not cede control of the Gaza Strip to the unity government, the presidential guard forces of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will not deploy along the borders and the crossings will remain closed.
According to an Israel Radio report, a member of the Palestinian delegation to the Cairo talks added that ceasefire negotiations would resume in October.
The report came a day after a high-level Egyptian delegation visited Ramallah to hold a series of consultations on the bid for a lasting ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and simmering tensions between Hamas and Fatah. Following the discussions, Egyptian ambassador to the PA Wael Atiyeh said that Egypt is ready to train presidential guard forces to man the borders and that once they are ready, Egypt will then open the Rafah Crossing to full capacity, the report said.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri said that he was confident that the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas would end in a lasting deal.
Egypt has maintained that it will only open its border crossing with Gaza if sufficient PA forces are in place to monitor it. Thus, if Hamas and Fatah cannot reach an agreement on deploying PA forces at the crossings, that could could jeopardize hopes for a lasting ceasefire, as opening Rafah was one of Hamas’s demands for stopping rocket fire almost from the beginning of the conflict in early July.
Tensions between the two groups seem to have boiled over in recent weeks following the allegation by Israeli intelligence that Hamas was plotting a coup against the PA in the West Bank.
On Tuesday, a Lebanese publication released the minutes from a meeting between Abbas and Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal in Qatar shortly before Israel and Hamas reached a ceasefire to end almost two months of fighting in Gaza. The minutes shed new light on the apparent rift between Abbas and the Hamas leadership, as the PA president reportedly ripped Hamas for repeatedly undermining his authority and even attempting to assassinate him in 2006.
AFP contributed to this report.