Egypt has informed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that Hamas will not discuss disarmament as part of reconciliation talks with Fatah, and will not consider the possibility before a peace deal is reached with Israel, the London-based pan-Arabic daily Rai al-Youm reported Thursday.
The report stated that the head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate, Khaled Fawzy, told Abbas during a recent meeting that Hamas would not disarm before reconciliation is achieved, new elections are held for Palestinian leadership and a solution is reached to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh had said on Tuesday that the terror organization would not give up its armed struggle against the Jewish state.
The Gaza Strip’s Hamas rulers and the PA’s ruling Fatah party have launched an ambitious attempt to end a 10-year rift, with negotiations starting next week in Egypt.
In an interview with the private On TV station, Haniyeh said “As long as there is occupation on the ground, our people have the right to possess weapons and resist the occupation with all forms of resistance.”
But in a gesture to Abbas, he said Hamas would not go back to war against Israel unilaterally. “We are ready to negotiate with the Palestinian factions and Fatah on unifying the decision of peace and war,” he said.
Such concessions are unlikely to satisfy Abbas, who issued his own tough statement late Monday saying “everything must be in the hands of the Palestinian Authority.”
Abbas said he would not agree to reproduce the “Hezbollah model” of Lebanon, where the armed terror group acts freely under the watch of a weak central government.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel will not accept a reconciliation deal between rival Palestinian factions that puts Israel at risk. He said any deal must include recognizing Israel, disbanding Hamas’s military wing and cutting ties with Hamas’s patron Iran.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi on Tuesday said Palestinian reconciliation could be an “opportunity” for wider regional peace.
“The whole world is waiting for your efforts to achieve reconciliation among the Palestinian people and appreciates your determination to address all obstacles,” Sissi said.
“There is a chance to realize peace in the region, providing all the parties are united,” he said.
Cairo has been the key backer in attempts to bring the two Palestinian sides together, and Sissi said the global powers would back the talks.
“I am confident the major world powers, when they see the Palestinian parties are fully aware of the nature of this phase and the importance of dialogue to achieve the goal of peace, will help to realize this peace,” he added.
The terror group Hamas has ruled Gaza since a violent overthrow of the Palestinian Authority in 2007, but last month agreed in principle to hand over civilian rule after Egyptian mediation.