Abbas says he won’t let Hamas make foreign policy decisions
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Abbas says he won’t let Hamas make foreign policy decisions

PA president expected to announce in Cairo that he will suspend unity talks if demands are not met

Lazar Berman is a former breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on July 22, 2014 in the West Bank city of Ramallah (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on July 22, 2014 in the West Bank city of Ramallah (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas took an assertive tone against Hamas on Saturday, saying he would no longer allow the organization to make policy decisions like signing agreements or initiating conflicts.

Speaking from Cairo, where he is meeting with Arab League foreign ministers, Abbas also mocked Hamas for launching thousands of rockets at Israel in the 50-day conflict, which did relatively little damage in Israel, Ynet reported.

Abbas is expected to declare Sunday that he is suspending talks with Hamas until his demands are met. Abbas has insisted that Hamas cede control of the Gaza Strip to the unity government established last spring between his Fatah faction and Hamas.

Amid reports that tensions between Hamas and Fatah could hinder the reconstruction of Gaza, senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said Wednesday he was confident that the Palestinian public wouldn’t hold the group responsible.

What happens next in Gaza “is the responsibility of Mahmoud Abbas because now he is responsible for the government,” he told the New York Times. “We are not responsible.”

Cairo-based senior Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzouk said that the organization has already distributed $40 million in Gaza, $2,000 to each family whose home was damaged.

On Wednesday, reports in the Arab media indicated that Egypt was meeting with both the Israeli and Palestinian sides and was preparing to issue invitations to ceasefire negotiations in Cairo, but tensions between Hamas and Fatah over the payment of salaries to Hamas employees and administration of border crossings were delaying the talks.

A Palestinian family walks on August 27, 2014, past the collapsed remains of a building in Shejaiya that was destroyed in fighting between Hamas and Israel. (photo credit: AFP/ROBERTO SCHMIDT)
A Palestinian family walks on August 27, 2014, past the collapsed remains of a building in Shejaiya that was destroyed in fighting between Hamas and Israel. (photo credit: AFP/ROBERTO SCHMIDT)

These reports came a day after Fatah officials reportedly warned that if Hamas did not cede control of the Gaza Strip to the unity government, Abbas’s presidential guard forces would not deploy along the borders and the crossings would remain closed. Egypt has said repeatedly it would not open the Rafah border crossing as long as it was controlled by Hamas.

However, riding an unprecedented wave of popularity following its most recent violent conflict with Israel, Hamas’s leaders have sounded confident that it can maintain support from the people, and since an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire went into effect, Hamas’s leaders have been working the streets to buoy that support.

AFP and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report. 

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