Sep 28 2014
By Daoud Kuttab
On paper it looks like Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his counterparts in Hamas need each other. Abbas will be unable to carry out Gaza’s reconstruction or even talk convincingly to the world about the future of Palestine without the acquiescence of the Islamists. On the other hand, Hamas cannot get a hammer or nail into Gaza or pay the 40,000 workers it has employed without the approval of the Palestinian president. If both sides so badly need each other, why is the Palestinian leader playing hardball with Hamas?
According to leaked transcripts, Abbas was extremely tough with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal during a private meeting with the Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, during the last days of the recent war with Israel. Abbas’ anger with Hamas was alsomade public after the cease-fire agreement in interviews he gave to a Palestinian television station.
The Palestinian president has paid little attention to Gaza issues in the last few weeks, focusing instead on European and UN visits to promote his peace plan, which calls for the international community to demarcate the borders of Palestine and for a three-year transition to total independence.
Abbas’ displeasure with Hamas had been apparent in a meeting he held in Ramallah Sept. 17 with a group of some 30 businesspeople from Gaza. In the two-hour meeting, during which, attendees said, Abbas appeared unhappy, he insisted that all building materials will enter Gaza under the supervision of UN representative Robert Serry, a sign that he accepts this Israeli condition. Abbas’ tough position stems from his mistrust of Hamas and concern about potentially angering moderate Sunni states. His stance is unlikely to change even after the signing of an agreement Sept. 25 in Cairo that allows the Palestinian unity government to operate in Gaza but fails to strip Hamas militants of security control. Continue Reading »