Palestinian Authority Criticizes Egypt's Reception of Hamas

Article Summary
Egypt’s decision to formally receive deposed Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh during a recent trip to Cairo has angered the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA), which rejects Hamas officials acting as intermediaries for all of Palestine. Dia al-Kalhout reports on the battle between the PA and Hamas for Palestinian foreign policy.   

The rejection by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah officials of the formal receptions that Ismail Haniyeh — prime minister of the sacked government in the Gaza Strip — has conducted on some of his foreign visits continues to reverberate (around the Palestinian political arena). Haniyeh is currently on a visit to Egypt and has met with Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil.

According to information obtained by As-Safir, the PA sent a letter of “reproach and inquiry” yesterday [Sept. 19] to the Egyptian authorities over their reception of Haniyeh as prime minister in Cairo, and another to the Qatari authorities over agreements signed with the sacked government on a number of construction projects which Doha had pledged to execute in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recently expressed concern that Egypt — without naming it — would deal with Hamas as a government in the Gaza Strip. He said that the PA will not allow such an encroachment.

The development of events has warranted a meeting with the Egyptian ambassador in Ramallah, Yasser Othman. A protest note from Abbas over the official reception of Haniyeh as prime minister and the signing of agreements with him was delivered to Othman. The PA sees this as duplicity in political representation.

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According to official Palestinian news agency WAFA, Abbas warned against “attempts to tamper with this crucial issue, because they encourage and support schemes aimed at dividing (the Palestinian factions) and suspicious solutions to the Palestinian cause.”

Fatah spokesman Fayez Abu Aita told As-Safir that his movement wants Egypt — a key sponsor of the Palestinian issue and national reconciliation — not to ignore the official representation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) or help to reinforce division (among Palestinians).

Abu Aita noted that dealing with two entities in the Palestinian arena would reinforce division rather than help put an end to it. He expressed hope that Egypt would deal with the issue of Palestinian representation with a nationalistic logic so its approach would not be misinterpreted as being with one party against the other.

For his part, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri accused Fatah and the PA of attempting to besiege his movement, asserting that these attempts will certainly fail. In a press statement — which As-Safir received a copy of — Abu Zuhri said that PA President Mahmoud Abbas does not have any right to talk about the representation of the Palestinian people.

According to political writer and analyst Thabit al-Ammour, Egyptian-Palestinian relations will not continue as they were under deposed President Hosni Mubarak. However, he noted that in order to succeed in completing the (Palestinian) reconciliation ... Egypt must maintain an equal distance from both Fatah and Hamas.

In a statement to As-Safir, Ammour said that Egypt is in an unenviable position with regard to dealing with the Palestinian issue. He added that rapprochement with Gaza, for example, will be seen as an organizational rapprochement between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, rather than between two neighboring countries — i.e., relations between two organizations rather than international relations or foreign policies.

Ammour ruled out the possibility of a crisis in the relationship between the PA and Egypt over receiving Haniyeh. He said that Egypt wants to deal with Gaza according to formal political relations rather than organizational relations, which would facilitate Egypt’s involvement in Palestinian reconciliation.

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Found in: palestinian authority, palestinian, hamas, fatah-hamas reconciliation
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