Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday renewed his demand that Hamas hand control over the entire Gaza Strip to the PA government, starting with the terror group’s security forces.
“The Gaza Strip has been hijacked by Hamas,” Abbas said, during a joint press conference in Ramallah with visiting Bulgarian President Rumen Radev. “They must immediately hand over everything, first and foremost security, to the Palestinian national consensus government.”
Abbas said that his ruling Fatah faction and Hamas had already agreed on the issue of empowering the PA government in the Gaza Strip.He was referring to the Egyptian-brokered “reconciliation” agreement that was signed in Cairo between the two parties in October 2017.
Hamas has until now failed to implement the agreement, Abbas charged.
His comments came on the same day that Hamas said it had killed the man suspected of being behind the failed bombing attempt on PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s convoy in the Gaza Strip earlier this month.
The PA blames Hamas and Abbas has vowed to impose a fresh set of sanctions on Gaza and end all aid payments.
Hamas, he warned Thursday, will have to assume “full responsibility for the Gaza Strip and bear the consequences of thwarting the grateful Egyptian efforts.”
On Wednesday, a Hamas security source said investigators had arrested and were questioning three people, including two members of the PA-run intelligence services, on suspicion of involvement on the March 13 attack, which also targeted the PA’s intelligence chief, Majid Faraj.
Another security source said he believed radical Salafist Muslims had planted the bomb, which lightly injured six people.
Palestinian sources told The Times of Israel that some of the detainees had confessed their involvement in the bombing attack and that Hamas claims they are members of the extremist global terror group Salafia Jihadia.
Hamas’s security chief in Gaza, Tawfiq Abu Naim, said on Saturday that two large bombs had been planted but only one of them detonated due to a technical malfunction. They were placed about 37 meters away from one another.
According to eyewitnesses, the device was detonated seconds before the armored vehicle bearing Hamdallah passed. Ten security guards and staff accompanying the two, who were in non-armored vehicles, were lightly wounded.
Abbas also renewed his call for convening an international conference for peace in the Middle East in mid-2018 – a proposal he first made during his February address to the United Nations Security Council.
He also repeated his appeal for “accepting the State of Palestine” as a full member of the UN.
Echoing the main points of his proposal, Abbas renewed his call for an “international multilateral mechanism” to oversee the peace process between the Palestinians and Israel.
“We wish to emphasize that we have never rejected negotiations,” Abbas said.
The US has accused Abbas of being unwilling to make peace after he cut off contacts with US officials follwoing US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Abbas has rejected Trump’s as-yet-unpresented peace plan as the “slap of the century.”
“We are always prepared to return to the negotiations, but at the same time we won’t accept solutions outside the framework of international legitimacy. We want a two-state solution — an independent and sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. This city, East Jerusalem, should be open to all religions, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, which will practice their religious rituals freely,” he said.